16 Jul 2012

Documents show ‘just in time’ G4S culture

In an internal G4S memo, the embattled Olympics contractor justifies its last-minute security strategy by claiming it was neither practical nor cost-effective to train everyone months in advance.

Home Secretary Theresa May insisted to the House of Commons today that the first the government knew of the problems confronting G4S in supplying staff for the Olympics was last week. She said that the firm had expressed confidence only a few days earlier.

But Channel 4 News has seen a G4S note to its managers which refers to “just in time” phasing of recruitment.

The document from Mark Hamilton, then head of Olympic security at G4S and dated 29 June, talks of a last-minute strategy.

“Many of you have queried the time left with what has still to be done. It would have been an advantage to have everyone trained months in advance but this was neither pratical nor cost effective,” the memo reads.

“The programme was planned to roll out through to July, and I appreciate this type of ‘just in time’ phasing puts pressure on your own personal arrangements, but I hope you are able to remain as flexible as possible as we now aim to get you into a deployable status.”

Security services shortfall

Earlier today it was reported that 17 out of an expected 56 G4S staff had turned up for work at the hotel in Salford.

In a statement, Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said: “On Saturday 14 July 2012, Greater Manchester Police became aware of a shortfall in security services for athletes participating in the 2012 Olympic Games.

“On Sunday 15 July 2012 a policing operation was set up by GMP officers to assist with the security operation to protect athletes staying at the main Olympic team hotel in Worsley.

“At no point was there a failure to provide security for the athletes.”

Nations due to be based in the Manchester area include Thailand and Australia. Some Team GB athletes will also be based there.

Under pressure

Greater Manchester Police Authority could not confirm the costs of the deployment but did say that the costs would be recouped. G4S Chief Executive Nick Buckles is under intense pressure following the revelation that the army is being brought in to cover a 3,500 shortfall in staff for Olympic venues.

The company’s share price has taken a battering on the markets following the news and ongoing criticism that G4S was inadequately prepared for the games. G4S has acknowledged it has faced “significant difficulties” in processing applicants and issued an apology. It said it is working “flat out” to resolve the situation.

The Home Secretary Theresa May gave a Commons statement on G4S in which she confirmed the government only learned of G4S’s inability to supply the promised number of staff on 11 July. She said that G4S had repeatedly assured the government that it would be able to deliver on its promises.

Read more: G4S – the anatomy of a shambles