Concerns over 'security breaches' by G4S staff working at Olympic venues

Thousands of security staff will stand guard at Olympic venues across the country Photo: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire

It is the largest British security operation carried out in peacetime.

Thousands of new recruits are being trained to operate x-ray machines, search vehicles and stand guard at Olympic venues across the country.

Such is the scale of the operation, the training will continue right up until a few days before the opening ceremony.

Today, ITV News was given exclusive access to the training centre in East London where up to 800 people per day are undergoing intensive lessons.

They must ensure the venues are safe and prevent demonstrators from bringing equipment like banners and tents into the stadiums and arenas.

New recruits learn how to operate security scanners Credit: ITV News

At the same time they must ensure that their work does not create long queues leaving spectators unable to see the events they have tickets for.

Olympics security training includes classroom exercises Credit: ITV News

All of this will be achieved says G4S, the company that is in charge of the recruitment drive.

But some staff who have worked on the operation have told us they have witnessed security breaches by G4S staff already working at Olympic venues.

They want to be anonymous – but when it comes to vehicle checks for example, one told us

“I have seen on a number of occasions personnel with mirrors walking around the vehicle not actually looking at the mirror’.

The men we have spoken to are sniffer dog handlers who worked for the Olympic security firm G4S.

Another said:

“I’ve seen many many incidents where dogs are being put on vehicles and I know for a fact that the dog can’t find anything."

Recruits watch a demonstration of searching a car Credit: ITV News

Among the key claims they make are:

  • The cargo areas of lorries and contractors vans have not been adequately searched either by dogs, scanners or other security teams.
  • In some instances dogs which were not trained to find explosives have been used to carry out fake searches of vehicles.
  • Some assessments of dogs and handlers have been faked, with the handlers told where to direct their dogs to find test explosives.
  • Some venues have already complained that G4S staff are not adequately briefed.

Some of those who spoke to us were sacked by G4S and have tribunal cases against the company.

The man in charge of the operation, the G4S Managing Director of Global Events, Ian Horseman Sewell, rejects all their claims.

He says:

"At no point is there any evidence that dogs that have been trained to detect substances other than explosives have been used to try to detect explosives."

– Ian Horseman Sewell, G4S Managing Director of Global Events

Another question is whether the more than 10,000 recruits G4S must train will be ready.

ITV News has been given a G4S internal assessment that appears to show that they already have almost 10,000 recruits trained out of the almost 14,000 they must provide.

The document is published for the first time here:

London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games Olympic Workforce

A breakdown of the Olympic venue security workforce Credit: G4S

Asked whether the teams will be ready Ian Horseman Sewell told me:

"I can’t tell you categorically because unforeseen events can happen but I can tell you we are on plan.”

The training programme – including the schedule that means training is happening right up to the last few days – was approved by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and the Home Office.

Both LOCOG and the Home Office say they are confident too – but with so little time left everyone accepts securing the games is still a challenge.