Police given £600m budget to keep London 2012 Games safe
Everything from responses to a bombing to long queues at venues will be tested by the emergency services and other key organisations involved in the 2012 Games, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced.
Power failures on the Underground, crowds at venues, threats from serious crime and protests are some of the potential situations that will be looked at.
Up to 12,000 officers will be needed on peak days during the Games and events such as the Notting Hill Carnival will still have to be manned.
Mrs May said police would have the manpower and legal force to ensure the 2012 Games were safe despite cuts.
“It is possible to make significant changes in budgets without affecting frontline officers,” she said. “I am confident the police forces around the country will be resilient both to provide the number necessary for the Olympics and the Paralympics and for the forces doing their day job of maintaining public protection and cutting crime.”
London 2012 is set to be Britain’s biggest peacetime security operation and will be policed at severe threat level.
Specialist police skills such as protection officers, detector dogs, search and mounted officers, which have limited numbers, are also part of the plans.
The 2012 security effort has a budget of up to £600m although it is believed that just under £500m may be needed.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said the cuts “add to the challenges” but did not change efforts to maintain high standards.
The exercises, which run from this summer through to June 2012, begin with “table-top” scenarios where key players have to respond to different situations.
There will also be a “live” simulated exercise with personnel on the ground next spring.
It coincides with the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Olympics, when 11 Israeli team members died after being held hostage by Palestinian gunmen.
Mrs May would not say if the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden two months ago had led to any new intelligence about the threat to the Games.
She said: “I am confident that we have the appropriate planning in place to deliver a safe and secure Olympic Games.”
Describing it as “a robust safety and security strategy”, Mrs May said: “The testing of our plans, structures and responses to ensure they can deal with any incident is vital.
“It is important we learn lessons ahead of the Games.
“I want to reassure everyone that with a year to go we will leave nothing to chance in our plans to deliver a Games that London, the UK and the whole world will enjoy.”
With London 2012’s 42 test events now under way, security officials are also getting several chances to try to fine tune the way they will need to work.
These competition test events, made up of specially-created invitational and scheduled competitions featuring top athletes, will test the operation of venues and iron out problems at the facilities.
Sir Paul described the planning as “well advanced”.
“While I am delighted with the progress we have made I am far from complacent – that is where the learning will be from these test events,” he said. “It is only when you get involved in it (the Olympic Games) that you realise what a challenge it is.
“It is not just about the Games, life is still going on. We will still have to run policing challenges in London particularly the Diamond Jubilee.”
The exercises are in addition to the ongoing programmes taking place across government to test incident responses. The police’s Olympic Intelligence Centre has been expanded and the maximum fine for ticket touting has increased from £5,000 to £20,000.
There is also a police-led National Olympic Co-ordination Centre to oversee safety and security operations during the Games.