Olympics, the greatest security challenge since WWII

Lord West, the minister responsible for security at the Olympics has said that the Games pose the “greatest security challenge” to the UK since the Second World War.

Speaking at a London conference on Olympic preparations, security minister Lord West said that Britain’s security planning was more advanced at this stage than any previous host city and that the country was “in good shape”.

He continued: “The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games promise to be the greatest sporting event in UK history and quite possibly the greatest security challenge that the UK has faced since the Second World War.”

Lord West pointed to the massive concentration of people with 15,000 athletes, 14,000 coaches and officials, 20,000 members of the media and 9m supporters forecast.  

The Games will also take place alongside annual events like Wimbledon and the Notting Hill Carnival that require significant security operations.

Lord West warned delegates that there was a fiscal threat to the Games and that delivery would have to be efficient to ensure that the security was delivered inside of the £600m budget. “This [budget] may sound like a lot of money but it has to stretch a long way. We all need to understand that we are operating within significant financial constraints.”

Another key message was the need to balance the competing imperatives of keeping the Games safe and ensuring the right atmosphere. Delegates heard: “The Olympics and Paralympics are about sports not security. We want the world to be inspired by the incredible sporting spectacle taking place here in London, one of the world’s greatest cities.

“Our security plans therefore need to strike a balance between visible and effective security and the welcoming and friendly atmosphere we all want.”

 That is what he said at the conference, how will he achieve this? In a report in the Mail on Sunday 15th November 2009, the task of protecting the Olympic Park will rely on private security staff and 6,000 16 to 19 year olds taking a specially developed BTEC qualification. The BTEC Diploma would young people 30 hours of training in “keeping people safe at events”, “communicating” and “dealing with large numbers of people.

 I guess that’s that sorted then.