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Private security firms ready to protect the Commonwealth Games

With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow set to get underway next month, preparations are now in their final stages to ensure the 11-day event runs as smoothly as possible.

Last week (May 29th), organisers revealed 17 private security firms are among armed police and the military in being entrusted with the stewardship of the occasion in Scotland's largest city.

Even though the announcement has been made with just over a month to go until the Games begin, security director and Police Scotland deputy chief constable (DCC) Steve Allen said planning for this side of the operation had been part of a seven-year process.

DCC Allen noted the project to protect the event was "unprecedented in scale", mainly because of the sheer resources needed to make sure all aspects run "safely and securely". 

With around a million people predicted to turn up to the programme, the main challenges security staff could face are expected to come as a result of scams, with ticket and accommodation frauds reportedly high on the list of threats to the peace of the Games. However, there is also a possibility that personnel will encounter organised crime.

Bosses have stopped short of arming a significant proportion of personnel, with only a section of suitably-trained police officers carrying guns, while around 1,100 military staff will patrol the streets without a firearm. This, they say, is because they do not want to put out the "wrong message" to members of the public.

Glasgow 2014 chief operating officer David Leather said: "We recognise and value the important role private security suppliers have to play and we are delighted to have created the opportunity for a wide range of security providers to contribute to delivering a safe and enjoyable Games experience for athletes, officials and spectators under the guidance of Police Scotland."

Mr Leather described the spectacle as the "biggest multi-sport event Scotland has ever hosted" - in total, the event is costing around £500 million to stage, £90 million of which has been earmarked for providing security. As it is being held across 14 different venues, bosses have had to invest heavily in ensuring every part of the Games are adequately protected.

While the organisers have said that lessons have been learned from London 2012 - where the police and army had to be drafted in following contractor G4S' failure to provide enough guards in time, the fact that there will still be such a heavy presence of private security firms shows that the sector is still seen as being able to offer a reliable, effective service.
 
Glasgow 2014 should also be seen as an opportunity for the industry to banish any lingering reputational damage left as a result of the security debacle two years ago at London 2012.

Posted by Julie Tucker

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