Security Design – A London 2012 Olympic Success Story- Mark Tucknutt

By iSportconnect | October 3, 2012

Although London 2012 has been universally lauded as a great success, security surrounding the Games received significant public criticism, specifically the failure of a contractor to meet its obligations to provide sufficient security guards. Despite the obvious deficiencies in the provision of guarding by G4S, there were many other aspects of the Olympic security programme that must be regarded alongside the successes of the Games, such as planning, design and construction.

In fact, not only should these security successes be considered for their impact on the delivery of the Games, they will determine whether the legacy of the Olympic Park and other venues prove successful. After all, the failures were associated with the operational support of a six week event, whereas the benefits of the park’s design will be felt for much longer.

It is an old and almost clichéd lament in the security industry that the subject is often considered too late in the design process. This applies to any project; whether it is an office building, a sporting venue or an urban master plan. The design of London’s Olympic venues, including the Olympic Park itself, provides a number of examples of the benefits that can be achieved through…

• Rigorous and timely assessment of security risks

• Incorporation of security as a fundamental design requirement

• Collaboration between security designers and the rest of a multi-disciplinary design team

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), and its various security stakeholders, mandated such an inclusive approach to design. Security risk assessments were provided at the outset and verified by expert partners. These risk assessments were developed in relation to the layout and operation of venues as the designs progressed, allowing security risk mitigations to be designed which supported other key success criteria such as the spectator experience.

Perhaps most tellingly, for both the highly successful design of the Olympic Park for the Games and for its legacy use by the community, crime reduction measures were considered alongside counter-terrorist security from an early design stage. Architects, security design consultants and specialist crime prevention design advisers from the police worked together to ensure the Olympic Park was of reduced interest to persons with criminal intent. Similar strategies had already been shown to be a success in housing developments, where simple design controls such as the placement of footpaths and provision of lighting have been proven to dramatically reduce crime levels.

The ODA and its partners adapted these principles of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) for sporting venues, resulting in an enhanced spectator experience. Similarly, consideration of the planned operation of a venue and its security strategy and procedures facilitated both the necessary degree of security risk mitigation and optimal spectator throughput with minimal security interference.

Major event venue security planning and design should be considered as one of the successes of the London 2012 Olympics. The description above gives a glimpse at only a small part of one of the areas where excellence was achieved. The failure of the guarding contract must not be allowed to prevent security planning and design being one of the cornerstones of the legacy UK exports of knowledge and project success from London 2012.

It is also hoped that this approach will prove to be a legacy benefit to UK design and construction projects, especially sporting venues, and not just something that we export. The security and design professionals involved in the London 2012 Olympics have shown that if security is given equal status in the design process, it can support the wider design requirements of a project, control costs and improve the experience of those using a facility. It is now up to clients, architects and security designers to ensure that we continue to take this collegiate attitude to security risk management in design in order to reap the associated benefits.


About Mark Tucknutt

Mark Tucknutt is a Senior Risk and Security Advisor with Intelligent Risks Ltd (IR), and has over 12 years’ experience providing security advice to major national security projects.

IR is an international management services consultancy that specialises in the provision of market leading security, risk and emergency management planning and delivery advice to governments and organising committees hosting major events around the world. Our personnel have successfully completed projects on six Olympic Games, four Commonwealth Games, three FIFA World Cups and numerous other major events. IR also provides a range of security consultancy services to blue chip clients in several industry sectors. See www.irisks.com for further details.

Mark can be contact at mark.tucknutt@irisks.com

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