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Olympic and Paralympic Games (Security)

Volume 551: debated on Monday 15 October 2012

3. What assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the security operation at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; and if she will make a statement. (122202)

I am delighted by the success of the London 2012 games security operation. We delivered what we promised: reassuringly visible and proportionate security which protected games visitors, competitors and the wider public. I am particularly grateful to the many thousands of police and armed forces personnel who did such a great job, and in such a great spirit.

Will my hon. Friend join me in praising the hard work and dedication of those in the UK Border Force and all the other agencies whose professionalism made the security and immigration operation at the Olympics not only a great success, but a great advertisement for the UK?

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the work of the UK Border Force in ensuring that the border was run efficiently and effectively during the games. I think that it is also worth highlighting the work of the Security Service, and that of the volunteers who contributed so much to the games.

The Home Affairs Committee report makes it clear that had it not been for the actions of the Home Office, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the Army, Olympic security would have been a fiasco because of the failure of G4S. Has the Minister seen the Committee’s final recommendation that a register should be established listing the private sector companies that failed to deliver, and will he look into the COMPASS contract which has just been awarded and about which concern has already been expressed?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for recognising the work that was put in, both many years in advance of the Olympics and during the games themselves. He will doubtless be aware of the work that the Cabinet Office is doing in assessing each major contractor to government. Performance will form part of that analysis.

Further to the earlier question from my hon. Friend the Member for Reading East (Mr Wilson), one of the biggest concerns before the games was the prospect of long queues at ports of entry such as Heathrow. May I therefore congratulate the Minister and the UK Border Force on a job well done in extending a warm and trouble-free welcome, without compromising border security, as the rest of the world arrived on our shores? Will he confirm that he does not view security and welcome as alternative choices to be traded off against each other, and that we can and should expect to deliver both?

My hon. Friend has rightly, again, praised the sterling work of the UK Border Force in ensuring that Heathrow and all other ports operated efficiently and effectively, and that not only were people able to pass through the border speedily, but national security was maintained.

I welcome the fact that the Minister has paid tribute to the Metropolitan police’s contribution to the success of the Olympic games—a point that was surprisingly omitted from the Prime Minister’s speech in Birmingham, presumably reflecting the poor relationship between Government Members and the Metropolitan police following the altercation with the Chief Whip. Will the Minister spell out more fully his tribute to the very important contribution that the police made to the great success of the games?

The Prime Minister has said that we have the greatest police force in the world, and I wholeheartedly endorse that. We saw some tremendous efforts by the police—the mutual aid from police forces up and down the country—to ensure that security was maintained during the Olympics and that we had a games of which we were all proud.