In this period Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison reconfirmed that terrorism was his main concern as regarded Olympic security. In a meeting with the London Assembly, he admitted that the full cost of security wouldn’t be known until after the event. This was a reasonable statement but it has drawn considerable attention to escalating costs. In part these have been driven by changes in the threat scenario since 2005, when the bid was won, not least increasing jihadist targeting of sports events – previously regarded as off-limits – and a resurgence in Northern Irish dissident Republican activity.
As expected, despite the aim for a “blue games” (i.e. one fronted by civilian security forces) a series of roles are now emerging for the Armed Forces. Special Forces were inevitably going to be on standby and the Royal Navy had always been factored into security for the high-profile sailing events but the regular Army now also faces an increasing role and manpower demand. Whilst the Armed Forces are happy to be involved there is also a feeling that this commitment will increase the current feeling of overstretch, with additional concerns over cost and resource implications.
The main worry for business remains continuity, especially as regards difficulties with travel. The journey to the site from central London should take 36 minutes on the underground, but people are being advised to allow two hours, reflecting the anticipated trouble (and possibly the security element alluded to above). The issue of the Olympic routes has also aroused ire, particularly from London cabbies, who brought Trafalgar Square to a standstill over the issue late on 9 November. Many more such protests are likely and drivers may well attempt to cause disruption during the games themselves should they still not be allowed to use the Olympic routes to get around town. As ever, businesses are advised to plan early for the disruption and can make use of the many free or paid-for resources on offer (contact us for details if required).