John Patten, a former Home Office minister and an advisor to the British Olympic Association, has warned that inadequate security procedures have left London 2012 venues vulnerable to terrorist attack.
By Paul Kelso
The Telegraph (UK)
Patten, who was a Cabinet minister in the last Conservative government and served as Northern Ireland secretary said that the Olympic Park site in east London is already vulnerable to terrorists who could plant smart bombs in the foundations of venues currently under construction.
Writing in the latest edition of The Spectator, Patten, who is a member of the BOA’s advisory board, claims that well-placed sources have told him the Olympic project is suffering from a lack of security planning.
Patten claims that the acrimonious departure of Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who was overseeing Olympic security before he sued the force claiming racial equality, has hindered the project.
He also suggests that the key agencies involved in organising security are bickering over who takes the lead role, undermining confidence in the entire project.
“In an age of determined and technologically sophisticated incremental terrorism, the Met and the Security Services must overcome everything from highly unfortunate public rows over employment discrimination affecting key officers involved to more private inter-agency rivalries,” Patten writes.
“Forget about policing crowds in 2012, pipework and brickwork is being laid now which is vulnerable to smart devices that can lurk latent until 2012. At least one person from that world tells me that there is no real integrated concept of operations yet. Someone or somebody must provide that focus and work with a semi-detached Home Secretary.”
Patten’s observations, part of a wide-ranging critique of the project, will fuel concerns already expressed that security planning is behind schedule.
Earlier this year, the Public Accounts Committee warned that security master-planning for the project was behind schedule.
The Home Office is working on a strategy document and had planned to put it to the Olympic board before the end of the year. It is expected to unveil its plans in the new year.
When questioned on the issue by The Daily Telegraph last month, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was satisfied that the total security budget of £838 million would be sufficient to cover the final bill, but declined to comment on details of the plan.