First serious security scare to affect 2012 project casts doubt on claims of ‘exemplary site security’

Police have arrested 14 suspected illegal immigrants who were employed to guard the 2012 Olympic park in raids carried out this year, in the first serious security scare to hit the project.

The workers were employed by security firm Safe-sec, despite the Olympic Delivery Authority’s (ODA) insistence that extensive background checks would be carried out on Olympic staff.

It has emerged that the guards were arrested in February in a joint operation between the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office’s UK Border Agency.

The breach is of particular concern as the workers were responsible for preventing unauthorised access to the 270 acre site, which is considered a terrorist target. The area includes the sites for the £525m stadium and the £303m aquatics centre.

A source said: “It’s embarrassing for the ODA after all the talk about exemplary site security.” Sources close to the project say some of these workers are now facing deportation.

We’re working with contractors to help them prevent illegal working

UK border agency

The ODA’s plans have already come under scrutiny, even though it is unusual for full security to be in place early in a project. The organisation said this week that the UK Border Agency has had representatives on site vetting all staff since May.

Safe-Sec is still employed by the ODA, but future security contracts are still being tendered. A Safe-sec advert on the Gumtree website in May said jobs were available on the site immediately and that applicants must have passports with proof of leave to work in the UK and two proofs of address.

The UK Border Agency said: “Our approach to the Olympics is no different to any other business. We’re working with contractors to help them identify forged documents and prevent illegal working.” 

An ODA spokesperson said: "The ODA stresses that the major threat to the site in february was unauthorised access from a health and safety perspective, not from the point of view of a terrorist threat."

  • Lend Lease’s board met in London last week to discuss re-financing the £1bn Olympic village scheme. The ODA said last week it may need more public funding as had to renegotiate the deal after Lend Lease was unable to secure as much funding as it was expecting.