December 5 - The Government have dramatically increased their security budget for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics from £282 million ($441 million/€328 million) to a huge £553 million ($866 million/€643 million), an increase of £271 million ($424 million/€315 million).

The announcement was made by Sport and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson (pictured) here as the Government's November 2011 Olympic Quarterly Economic Report showed that security concerns for the public during the Olympic and Paralympic Games are now far greater than originally anticipated.

"The increase in security guard numbers is not in response to any specific security threat," stressed Robertson.

"But as venue security plans have developed, so has the requirement for security personnel at Games time to support them.

"The funding is being made available to London 2012 to support them in delivering their responsibilities for securing Olympic and Paralympic venues and it will fund the recruitment and training of 23,700 venue security personnel and search and screening equipment for more than 100 competition and non-competition venues across the UK.

"The fact is safety and security of the public at the London 2012 Games is non-negotiable.

"We will not compromise on security because it is the responsibility of the Government to keep the public safe."

Robertson refused to condemn the original security budget estimate of £282 million ($441 million/€328 million) as he said that it is only now that the relevant security authorities have a clear idea of what the security costs will be.

"Only at the very last stages of the process can you be entirely sure what security for an event of this scale will cost," he said.

"There are also a number of other factors such as the international security situation so £553 million ($866 million/€643 million) is the figure we have come up with.

"It could rise depending on the international security situation as we get closer to the Games but this is the figure we have right now.

"The Government carried out a full review of security arrangements in late 2010 and remains confident the right plans are in place to deliver a safe and secure Games for all.

"The Government's approach is intelligence-led and risk-based, giving the flexibility to respond to any changes between now and Games time.

"The further funding is containable within the overall £9.3 billion ($14.6 billion/€10.8 billion) public sector funding package.

"The core security operation will be performed by G4S private security guards, with additional support from the military and London 2012 volunteers, while all roles will be performed by people who are appropriately trained and qualified."

Despite the huge rise for the security budget, the Quarterly Economic Report showed that the overall funding package for the Games remains at £9.298 billion ($14.56 billion/€10.81 billion), with more than £500 million ($783 million/€581 million) of unallocated contingency available.

The anticipated final cost of the Olympic Delivery Authority's (ODA) construction, infrastructure and transport programme is £6.856 billion (£10.728 billion/€7.972 billion) which shows a decrease of £394 million ($617 million/€458 million) since July.

The ODA has also achieved £42 million ($66 million/€49 million) of new savings in the quarter July to September, taking the total achieved since the November 2007 baseline to more than £910 million ($1.4/€1.1 billion).

Construction of the venues and infrastructure for the Games is now 92 per cent complete, with the majority of venues on the Olympic Park now complete.

Meanwhile, contracts for the sale of the Olympic Village (pictured) and adjacent development plots to the Delancey and Qatari Diar joint venture have been exchanged, generating £557 million ($872 million/€648 million) for the ODA.

"We're in the home straight, with the finish line in sight – and still going flat-out to keep down the bill for building the Games," said ODA chief executive Dennis Hone.

"We can now report that more than £900 million ($1.4 billion/€1 billion) has been saved and our anticipated final cost cut again.

"But there is still work to do, with smaller venues to be completed and the Olympic Village set to be finished around the end of the year.

"So we are anything but complacent and totally committed to securing value for money for the public from this huge project."

The Quarterly Economic Report also showed that £41 million ($64.2 million/€48 million) – including £7 million ($11 million/€8 million) held in contingency – will be given to London 2012 for the Olympic and Paralympic Ceremonies.

"There will be four billion people watching the Ceremonies around the world and given the unique opportunity, we wanted to help make sure that they will showcase the best of the UK," added Robertson.

By Tom Degun