The following article was published in the Times on Monday. It was apparently picked up by one of their journalists looking through the sites. Whichever way you look at it this issue is now in the public domain as a result.
European Union citizens from outside Britain can work as security guards at the London Olympics without under going UK checking procedures, The Times has learnt.
The revelation raises the prospect that workers from member states will not be subjected to the same rigorous vetting as those with British licences, adding to concerns about security.
Officials expect the terror threat at the Games to be “severe”, meaning an attack is considered highly likely.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said last month that the event was a target for terrorist groups. Despite this, a Home Office quango has issued a directive revealing that many of the 23,700 security officials expected to work during the Games would not have a British security licence.
British workers must obtain qualifications before applying for a licence from the Security Industry Authority (SIA) which is awarded only if they pass checks, including with the Criminal Records Bureau. However the SIA said that residents from 27 member states, as well as those from Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, could work on a “temporary basis”.
EU citizens are able to work at the Olympics even if their home country does not have a security licensing regime and need only show that they have worked in the industry for two out of the past ten years. The SIA still requires evidence that they do not have a criminal record and declarations relating to work history and training.
Lord Carlile of Berriew, QC, formerly the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said that security workers should be accepted only if they were licensed under regimes comparable with Britain’s. “It should be a regime which is broadly similar to our own and must include credible checks. There are countries in which the incorruptibility of licensing regimes are not as strong as they are in the UK, “he said.
The disclosure adds to concerns about security of Olympic venues, which is being overseen by the contractor G4S on behalf of the London organising committee Locog. The budget has doubled to £553 million and military help has been sought after organisers expanded the security detail to 23,700. The original estimate was 10,000.
An SIA document outlines how citizens from member states can be placed on a “temporary” register letting them work for 12 months in Britain. They can then apply to remain on the register for a further year. The SIA said that it was bound by an EU directive of 2007, which applied to most professions and involved an obligation to hire people from the region. It said “The directive is equally applicable to Britons wishing to work in other countries within the European Economic Area. Almost all EU countries regulate private security. There are those that have requirements beyond those of the UK.”
Asked whether it was satisfied that EU countries had a satisfactory equivalent to CRB checks, the SIA said “All applicants applying under the directive must provide evidence that they have no criminal convictions.” The SIA and the Home Office confirmed that there were no further requirements for 2012 security staff.
G4S repeatedly failed to respond to questions about whether it was satisfied that the current requirements were appropriate or confident that the backgrounds of workers were being adequately checked. A spokeswoman said “G4S complies with SIA and EU directives.”
There are only five people on the register at present – from France, Portugal, Ireland and Romania. G4S could not say how many of the 38,000 people seeking Olympics security work were from Europe.