Security Countdown To The Olympics David Evans

As the 2012 Olympics draws closer has asked the “BSIA’s Olympic Specialist” David Evans to keep our readers in the know as the countdown to the opening ceremony continues. David writes:

In two years time the Olympics will be over.  The hectic and unique summer of 2012 will be one unlikely to be repeated in the majority of our lifetimes.  Following the Games there will be a period of analysis as government, people, industries and academics attempt to evaluate the impact of the Games in cultural, sporting and financial terms.  This legacy is notoriously difficult to measure and yet it is the very reason we bid for and won the Games.

In a series of articles for Infologue between now and 2012 I will seek to demonstrate how the build up to the Games will impact on the security industry and what the legacy of the Games will mean to us.  I am, as many readers will know, the BSIA’s Project Director for 2012. The BSIA and its members have understood from the award of the Games the significant impact the Games will have on the UK’s security industry. It will be the biggest private security event ever held anywhere and for the police it will be the biggest and most complex event they have ever handled. In order to have a safe and secure Games, industry, police and government bodies will have worked co-operatively as partners throughout and this will be the basis of a legacy which will affect the industry for many years to come. This legacy is one that requires shaping so that it provides maximum benefit to the UK’s security industry and to the country’s need to ramp up the export of our expertise, products and services.

The Games in 2012 will be the first to be hosted inside a capital city with such a high level of threat from terrorist activity. Who can forget that, on the day following the award of the Games to London, the London transport system was subject to a devastating attack by home grown AQ suicide bombers.  The Glasgow airport bomb followed and other more potentially devastating attacks on crowded places and transport systems have been thwarted by the security services.  Against this backdrop the planning for the London Games is set at Severe with contingency plans in place for escalation to Critical. Sir Ian Johnston, LOCOG’s Director of Security, has announced recently that access control levels for entry to Games’ venues will be to airport standards. Not easily achieved when the number of spectators attending the Games will be in excess of 9 million.

The planning for the security of the Games coincided with Government planning following 7/7 and the creation of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT) and the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure (CPNI). The Home Secretary has the responsibility via the Olympic Security Committee to ensure that the Games are held in a safe and secure environment and for this reason the OSCT has been given the lead in the planning of security for the Games. Day to day responsibility for this planning lies with its specially created Olympic Security Directorate. The security strategy for the Games was published in July 2009 and followed and is part of the UK’s Counter Terrorist Strategy, CONTEST, which was revised in March 2009. This strategy is in itself guided by the National Risk Register and National Security Strategy.  A guide to CONTEST and the role of industry was produced by the BSIA for its members in July 2009 and a special briefing to members was given by the OSCT earlier this year.

The security industry is, as we know, a major contributor to the security of the UK’s assets and business community.  CONTEST recognises this, as does the Olympic and Paralympic Security Strategy. In the 2005 security submission to host the Games it was stated that “the national policing response will be supported by, and work in partnership with, the private security industry”. This partnership is not a natural one and there are many examples of how partnership has failed to coalesce at major international events held across the world. In the UK there are many examples where the security industry is working well currently with local police forces for local events, but not on the scale required for 2012.

The exam question is “How can industry become a partner with the police and how can it work with Government to ensure a safe and secure Games?” This question is also related to CONTEST for they are linked intrinsically. The Government recognised that it needed to create a strategic relationship with the security industry to implement CONTEST effectively, but understood the difficulty of doing so because of the diversity and fragmentation within the industry.  This need led in 2007 to the creation of RISC – the UK Security & Resilience Industry Suppliers Community.  This brought together the three major industry trade associations – BSIA, Intellect and ADS together with major industrialists and academia to work with Government through the OSCT on a number of issues.

This strategic partnership is having a significant impact on government thinking and planning and as the partnership develops industry is becoming a trusted and valuable source of ideas designed to improve the effectiveness of national security. Current joint working through Industry Advisory Groups (IAGs) and consultation include the CNI (Critical National Infrastructure), CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive), ICT (Cyber Security), 2012, Policing (with HMIC), Procurement, and submissions e.g. the Strategic Defence and Security Review. Government works through RISC with the trade associations but also directly with industry through members. The BSIA, for example, has a number of members serving on the CNI IAG and this gives them an opportunity to contribute to issues specific to the CNI and also gain an insight into future developments and opportunities.

The 2012 Industry Advisory Group is, as the name suggests, the IAG directly involved in the security industry input into the planning for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.  It has a formal place within the Olympic Security Directorate’s Programme structure. In my next article I will explain more of how the security industry is working within the Olympic and Paralympic Safety and Security Strategy to ensure that industry is fully involved in the planning process and that opportunity for industry is communicated.