Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Anti-terror sweep at Games venues

Police officers take part in a security search exercise at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London

Searches used to help thwart Irish republican terrorists are being deployed by Scotland Yard to help lock down security at London 2012 venues, Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison has said.

Defensive counter-terrorism search exercises are being carried out now and as completed Olympic venues are being handed over to the London 2012 organisers, giving the police "thinking time" for how they will need to search the venues next year.

It is part of a multi-layered security operation to create confidence that all 2012 venues, from the Olympic Stadium, athletes' village and Weymouth sailing venue, are safe in the face of possible threat.

Giving an insight into the search and secure operation being mounted across all venues for the London 2012 Games, Mr Allison, the national Olympic security co-ordinator, said: "Obviously we have been doing these types of searches for many years.

"We had to do it with the republican threat many years ago. It was one of the major bits of activity that we did to thwart Irish republican terrorism."

Police are using the transfer of venues - from the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), in charge of Olympic build, to the London 2012 organisers (Locog) - to do exercises to test their search procedures.

He said: "We are running the Games as an isle-site concept. You secure the perimeter of your site. You then do a defensive search to ensure there is nothing in it that should not be there, so you are entirely happy it is a secure venue.

"Then after that you search everything and everybody that comes in, so you can be happy that nothing that should not be there is in there. We are going to do this for all of the Olympic stadia and venues prior to the Games as the new build stadia or venues have been handed over".

A rope access team including detectives on harnesses strung from the roof searching the spotlights, detector dogs looking for traces of mock explosives and police officers carrying out systematic hand searches were part of a recent defensive counter-terrorism test search exercise at the £486m Olympic Stadium.

The hand searchers at the Olympic Stadium included police search units used at crime scenes such as the murders, the July 7 bombings or a shooting. They are also used in places where police believe drugs or money has been hidden. These officers could be told to search a room or an open space like the Olympic Stadium. They investigate everything from looking behind light switches to looking in to voids.