Nick Buckles is not alone.†While the chief executive officer of the international security firm G4S — an affiliate of which is located in Barbados — squirms under the embarrassment his company faces in the United Kingdom, the importance generally attached to security matters in our neck of the woods is worthy of examination.
Seven years ago London won a two-way fight with Paris by 54 votes to 50 at an IOC meeting in Singapore to host these Games, after bids from Moscow, New York and Madrid were eliminated. This G4S/British Government fiasco, then, technically, has been seven years in the making. There is no excuse.
Now, while Buckles cries that his company cannot honour its BDS $886 million contract to provide 10,400 security guards — less than two weeks before the Games start — and moans even more that his company should not have taken the contract in the first place, the families of the athletes attending the London Olympics will simply have to hold their collective breath until August 12 and hope that nothing untoward befalls their kin as a consequence.
The events of September 11, 2001 in the United States ought to have changed the way people view security.†Though protective controls at points of entry, major official functions and diplomatic residences might have tightened around the world, what has transpired to sully Britain’s reputation even before the London Olympics have started, is sadly a reflection of organisational breakdown, human lapses and ineptness that often go unnoticed in an atmosphere of “all’s well that ends well”.
There are lessons to be learnt in Barbados.†Security in this island, even if not deliberately, is unwittingly treated as a monumental joke.†One just needs to walk into a bank or other major commercial entity and observe unarmed guards, some, if not geriatric, seemingly in the final throes of their lives, armed with a club or waistline girth, having been given the paper responsibility of protecting life and property.
When last has the average spectator visited a major sporting, entertainment or other public function, and observe the eyes and attention of police or private security officers constantly fixed on them, as they should be? Invariably, our security personnel watch the events along with all of us.
There have been documented reports of weapons, exhibits and other property being spirited away from police stations. There have been reported instances of military uniforms disappearing from our local base. There have been documented instances of additional crimes being committed after initial reports and information given on the perpetrators did not meet with swift action. There have been documented instances where paedophiles and other sexual deviants found employment as security guards at some of our schools.
We have had the ludicrous situation of objections being raised to the placement of security cameras in the Bridgetown Port. Even more amusing, was the fact that some leading citizens found spurious reasons why this additional security measure should not be utilised. It all speaks to a lack of true appreciation for effective security controls.
We point no fingers at anyone specifically, but we say that there is a general indifference to security and safety, and only when the proverbial chicken comes home to roost do we presume to take the issue seriously.†With the fiasco in Great Britain taking world focus, perhaps it presents public and private authorities in Barbados with the opportunity to review security at our Government and statutory offices, points of entry, as well as our commercial institutions.†We have not reached the stage that has sadly developed in Jamaica where police stations sometimes fall prey to thugs, but many of our police officers would be the first to reveal that our police posts are generally not the best secured edifices in the island.
Some companies routinely entrust thousands of dollars to messengers to transport to banking institutions with their only security being their faith in God. Other companies have security personnel responsible for the protection of millions of dollars in property, armed again, only with their faith in God. A few civilians have gone unwillingly to meet Him in the line of duty. The late Foster Breedy comes readily to mind.
Let’s hope that the confusion now engulfing London does not result in any incident occurring to the detriment of any of the athletes. But let us also think about security, within a Barbadian context, and see where we can improve our systems and develop a proactive attitude and culture within the protection industry.†Paradise can be both gained and lost.†††