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Troops arrive in Weymouth and Portland to boost security

A member of the armed forces and a party of Royal Marines carrying out a security sweep prior to the Olympic Torch music concert on the beach

A member of the armed forces and a party of Royal Marines carrying out a security sweep prior to the Olympic Torch music concert on the beach

First published in News by

TROOPS have been drafted into Weymouth and Portland to boost Olympic security after the operation run by contractor G4S descended into chaos.

The national sailing academy and Olympic village is now being patrolled by the military under full security lockdown.

It has been stressed the security operation will not be compromised and the operation will be tighter than ever.

The Echo has been told there have been security staff shortages of up to 60 per cent at the Olympic venue in Weymouth and Portland.

Amid the chaos, it is also understood that some G4S employees working at the sailing venue were told not to go into work at the weekend as they did not have the right documentation.

The news comes after it emerged the national contractor G4S, the world’s biggest private security company, has failed to train enough security staff to cover the Olympics, forcing the military to provide 3,500 servicemen to secure venues around the country. In some cases employees had yet to receive training, uniforms or work rotas.

G4S boss Nick Buckles has apologised for the blunder.

The Ministry of Defence would not confirm how many troops are in Weymouth and Portland – but military personnel including Royal Marines have been spotted patrolling the sailing academy.

Royal Marines were also seen on Weymouth Beach doing security sweeps before the Olympic Torch concert on Thursday night.

The G4S chaos does not involve local security firms which have Olympic comtracts.

In some areas of the county, police officers have been drafted in to boost security but the Dorset Police Federation said this has not happened locally.

Chairman Clive Chamberlain said: “It’s an absolute mess. G4S was contracted to provide a certain number of security staff each day and they have failed to do this.

“It’s been chaos. It’s an absolute disgrace. On some days in Weymouth and Portland there has been a staff shortage of 59 per cent and the best they have managed is 85 per cent turning up.

“It’s like a lottery of staff numbers each day and they haven’t met their target once.”

He added: “In Dorset, police aren’t covering and the security hasn’t been compromised.

“In a way I think this has made the operation here safer because they are using military professionals now who will be better than G4S staff. The biggest worry now is that they will suddenly recruit staff that will be untrained.

“There’s only two weeks before the Games and they are in this awful position.

“I’ve got every confidence that Dorset Police and the military will deliver in spite of what G4S has done. I would prefer the military providing the security in the first place because they’re real professionals.”

Councillor Sylvia Bradley, Portland Town Mayor, said: “I’m disgusted. Safety is essential to the people of the island and obviously in Weymouth.

“I’m shocked by it.

“They have had four years to sort it out and they still haven’t got it right and we’re only a fortnight away.

“I can’t see them putting it right in the two weeks we’ve got left and again our great military service is having to come in and save the day.”

South Dorset MP Richard Drax said: “Clearly something has gone wrong and whether the government and LOCOG has kept a close enough eye on this company is a question that will have to be asked after the Games. It’s regrettable that the military has had to be brought in, especially when some have just come back from Afghanistan and were due to have a well-earned break.”

The father of a G4S employee at the sailing village said his son and other staff had been contacted on Friday night and told not to turn up for work because they didn’t have the ‘proper passes’ and wouldn’t be allowed in.

The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said his son had been working there for two months without any problems.

He said: “They were recently issued with new uniforms.

“Now they’re being told not to come into work.

“The situation is ridiculous; I’m disgusted at the way they’ve been treated.”

Company's 'working extremely hard' to get staff up to speed

A spokesman for G4S said: “We have encountered some challenges in what is a very complex security, recruitment and deployment exercise.

“There have been delays in progressing applicants through the final stages but we are working extremely hard to process these as swiftly as possible. We have made very significant progress – we already have nearly 4,000 people at work across 100 venues. “We currently have over 9,000 additional people going through the final stages of the required extensive training, vetting and accreditation process.

“We understand the government’s decision to bring in additional resources and will work with LOCOG, the military and other agencies to deliver a safe and secure Games.”

Referring to the security guards who have been told not to turn up for work, the spokesman said: “I’m afraid I don’t know the detail here, but clearly as we’re getting closer to the Games security is uppermost and everyone has to have the correct accreditation from LOCOG.”

• On a separate issue, G4S confirmed that a security worker at the Weymouth and Portland site had been sacked in connection with allegations of unlawful conduct at the venue.

The spokesman said: “We can confirm that a member of staff who was based at the Weymouth venue was questioned by police last week in connection with allegations of unlawful conduct at the venue. The member of staff is no longer part of the G4S 2012 workforce.”

Dorset Police said a man was spoken to at Portland but no arrests were made.

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