British police would not be able to cope with disturbances on
the scale of August’s riots if they occur during next year’s London
Olympics, the officer coordinating security for the Games said
Officers are holding off decisions on how to cope with security
problems during the 2012 Games until the conclusions of a report on
public order policing becomes available, said Assistant
Commissioner Chris Allison, the national Olympic security
”If we were facing exactly the same as we were faced with on
the Monday night (of the riots), with the resources we’ve got now,
we still wouldn’t be able to cope with it,” he told reporters.
”Some work is being done to think about what we need to put in
place in Games time,” he said.
Gangs of youth rampaged through London and other major British
cities in early August, burning and looting shops and buildings in
the country’s worst unrest since race riots in the 1980s. Hundreds
of people were arrested for the violence. The disorder, which took
place over four nights, came less than two weeks after London
celebrated the one-year countdown to the opening of the games on
July 27, 2012, with great fanfare.
Officials said Monday they would spend three million pounds
($4.7 million) to boost tourism on the back of the Games and
restore the Olympic host city’s tarnished image.
Culture, media and sport secretary Jeremy Hunt says the
publicity campaign aims to ”set the record straight” and show the
world that the riots do not ”stand for what the U.K. is all
The campaign will highlight the preparations for the 2012 Games,
he said. Officials say that all major venues for the Games have
been completed, and the 3 million pounds for the tourism campaign
has been saved from funds remaining from the original 9.2
Nevertheless, one of the security concerns was that parallel
events held near Olympic sites could become ”soft targets” that
attract terrorists, Allison said. Authorities planning such events
need to coordinate with each other to ensure there is enough
security spread out across venues, he said.
”If there is a soft target 200 yards down the road from the
main venue, and it’s got a couple of Olympic rings over the top of
it, that’s where the baddies are going to go to,” Allison
Police resources are stretched tight as a result of the
government’s budget cuts, he added.
The Home Office said lessons have been learnt from the riots and
that Olympic security has been protected so that police could
deliver a safe Games.