The Need for Security
at The Olympics

In two years time London will host the world’s largest sporting event, the Olympics. One of the challenges for its organisers will be to provide foolproof security for the games. The International Olympic Committee regards security as the “number one priority” for every organising committee, and we must ensure that we have the highest standard of safety procedures for the participants and the visitors alike.

The organisers of the London Olympic Games have called on the citizens to volunteer for the games, and they plan to draft thousands of volunteers into security duties. This is an ambitious project, which could be a gamble. If the project is successful, it will be a good example of training citizens to provide security services at huge sporting events at cheaper costs, however, if it fails, the results could be disastrous.

Organising security for a huge sporting event involves a massive logistical exercise. It requires the implementation of comprehensive strategic plans that take into account every detail of public safely, understanding the contingency plans and ensuring law and order. To achieve this, the security agencies will have to set up an elaborately planned security infrastructure that knits together the intelligence, defence, police, volunteers and private security companies to be vigilant against any possible untoward incidents like terrorist attacks.

In this regard, the decision by LOCOG to appoint a central security provider makes lot of sense. Centralising the management will ensure that everyone works together and help put in place processes and systems that lead to safer games.

It is essential to have a ‘security mechanism’ that ensures that the different security agencies work as a team. To achieve this, there needs to be a degree of uniformity, like creating a force that acts as one and looks as one. It is imperative that the security personnel should have a standard uniform. Not having the same uniform is likely to create confusion among the crowd, especially if they see security personnel with different uniform across the venues. This could be hugely damaging to the reputation of the city as well as to the UK’s security industry to say the least.

One of the primary challenges would be to train thousands of volunteers, who will be drafted into the ambitious plan of citizen policing. It must be understood, that security responsibilities cannot be taken for granted because a single lapse of judgement or attitude could have a severe fall out. The idea should not be about marshalling thousands of security personnel for a perceived sense of security, but it should be about providing highest level of professional services by people capable enough to pay attention to the nitty- gritty detail of public safety.

I am hopeful that that the concerns highlighted will be addressed in due course, but it will be interesting to see how the legacy of what may be a ‘brilliantly orchestrated’ exercise of human and security management lives on after the games.

Abbey Petkar

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