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Missiles to protect Olympics?

2011-11-14 18:57
London 2012 logo (File)
London - Surface-to-air missiles could be deployed to protect the skies over London during the Olympic Games in London next year, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said on Monday.

His revelation in parliament came amid a heated debate about security at the Games, which take place from July 27 to August 12, 2012.

Hammond made his comments in answer to a question from his predecessor, Liam Fox, who asked him to confirm what provisions would be in place in the event of a possible attack from the air.

All necessary measures would be taken to ensure the security of the Games, said Hammond, adding that "appropriate ground to air defences" would be in place if that was recommended by the military.

Recent reports have said that a recent reassessment of security provisions had revealed a shortfall in the number of staff needed to guard sporting venues.

The Guardian newspaper reported on Monday that the US government was concerned about venue security and was preparing to send up to 1 000 of its own agents, of which 500 would come from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

According to the Guardian, the London Olympics organising committee LOCOG is currently attempting to resolve a "potential crisis over venue security."

It had found that it had "underestimated" the number of security guards needed at the 32 different sites across the country.

Originally, it had thought that 10 000 guards would be enough, but it now believed that up to 21 000 could be needed.

Reports last week said that the gap could partly be filled by deploying up to 6 000 soldiers in security roles next year.

However, the British Home Office insisted on Monday that security planning was "on track" and sufficient funding had been secured to deliver a safe Olympic Games.

The British government had a "close working relationship" with the US which had also expressed confidence in the security measures. Requirements for venue security were currently being finalised, said the Home Office.

Chris Allison, the assistant commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police in charge of Olympic security, said on Monday that the security challenge posed by the Games should not be "underestimated."

"Whilst I'm not complacent and recognise there's still quite a bit to do, I think we're in a very good place at the current time," he said in a TV interview.

Asked repeatedly about the numbers quoted in the Guardian, Allison said that neither he nor his counterparts in the US "recognised" the figures mentioned in the report.

He said it was usual practice for a "small number of liaison officers" from foreign police services to cooperate with national forces during events such as the Olympic Games.

Read more on:    london olympics  |  philip hammond

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