Private security firm G4S will donate £2.5m to the Armed Forces as a gesture of thanks for the support military personnel provided during the Olympic Games.
An additional 4,700 members of the Armed Forces were drafted in to help provide security at the Games after G4S failed to provide 10,400 staff for the event as agreed in its £284m contract.
Details of the staff shortage came out just a fortnight before the opening ceremony. G4S was unable to provide enough guards, so the military involvement was increased as ministers opted to “leave nothing to chance” following the scandal.
Some 18,000 military personnel provided support at the Games, including members of the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Leave was postponed for a number of these people.
Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, said the donation from G4S would “go some way” to recognising the burden put upon the Armed Forces by the security staffing issues.
Hammond said: “The Armed Forces provided more to the security and protection of the Games than had originally been planned, but as always they have carried out their tasks with professionalism and good humour.
“This contribution from G4S is welcome news for the Service Welfare funds and will go some way to recognising the inconvenience and extra burden that this commitment has placed upon our forces and their families.”
The £2.5m donation will be used to pay for welfare amenities such as sports equipment, while it will also help sports associations which have backed serving athletes, including rowing gold medallists Lieutenant Pete Reed and Captain Heather Stanning.
Before the Games, former foreign correspondent for The Times Christopher Walker said he would be “happier having a trained British soldier, sailor or airman looking after me”.
Now the Olympic flame has been extinguished, he said: “It is not only my view but the view of everybody who paid enormous tribute to the Armed Forces. We did not hear of one person who did not feel not only secure, but well looked after.
“The way in which the army was able to combine strength with civility was enormously impressive.
“This offering today is welcome but the lesson I would think is next time let’s not bother with private companies for something serious.
“Once it started it seemed natural the armed forces were there. I didn’t see any paranoia from guests or visiting sports people that we had become a military camp.”
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