With the start of the Olympics just a matter of weeks away, signs of preparation are emerging at sites across London. With this comes a growing excitement in anticipation of the greatest sporting event in the world coming to the streets of the Capital. The Olympics preaches values of respect, excellence and friendship, bringing together people from across the world in a celebration of mankind.

Or so we are told. I do not seek to dampen spirits at a time when people should unashamedly revel in the carnival atmosphere that will hopefully descend on London. However, there are still some serious questions that the organisers of the Games must answer; foremost on this list is the planned installation of surface to air missiles at six locations.

…there must surely already be systems in place to prevent a 9/11 style attack…

No one denies that security at the Games must be exemplary. Tight security operations have become the norm in a post 9/11 and 7/7 world, and in the event of an attack a severe magnitude of criticism would be directed at the security forces for failing to prevent it. And yet, at the same time, people do not want to be aware of the security precautions that are going on around them. The Olympics isn’t meant to be showcasing military capabilities.

Clearly the Ministry of Defence are quite oblivious to this fact. Placing SAM missiles in London seems to be a bizarre decision for a number of reasons. For a start, there must surely already be systems in place to prevent a 9/11 style attack on Canary Wharf or the City, not too far from the Stratford Olympic site. Surely, if the current procedures for dealing with rogue aeroplanes suffice in times when the security services are not on heightened alert, they are good enough for the Olympics?

…inexcusable that these missiles are going to be placed on residential flats…

Something would have had to have gone seriously wrong for a missile attack on a plane flying over the city. Are the RAF actually saying that there is a chance they would not be able to deal with such a threat well before it reached London? Furthermore, is there any acknowledgment that taking an aircraft out of the sky is going to bring with it civilian casualties on the ground?

Maybe it is the lesser of two evils and maybe we should listen to those experienced in their field, but it is absolutely inexcusable that these missiles are going to be placed on residential flats, without an effective and thorough consultation process. Not only does this immediately make people’s homes the target of a potential attack, but as a current legal challenge on the plans makes clear, it is a direct assault on the human rights of residents.

…expected to house lethal weapons for over a month…

Lawyers on behalf of the residents in the 117 flats potentially involved claim placing missiles on the roof of the building will breach their right to family life and right to peaceful enjoyment of their homes under the European Convention on Human Rights. They have a fair point, but also it becomes a question of what is morally right. Can ordinary people really be expected to house lethal weapons for over a month? They should get a say in the decision.

Ultimately however, the unacceptable nature of the situation stems from the fact that there has been 7 years since London was awarded the Games to make a decision on security provisions. With less than a month to go before their start, it is just simple incompetence that a decision has not yet been made.

 

About The Author

History undergraduate at King's College London. Main interests in diplomacy and international relations but also enjoy writing about home affairs.

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