Yesterday's budget committee took evidence from the Metropolitan Police about Olympic security and responding to the riots.
Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison is the national Olympic security coordinator. He has a budget of £600 million to guarantee public safety outside the Olympic venues - inside, the security is the responsibility of LOCOG. He refused to predict the total security costs because a wide range of variables are still in play.
However the initial policing operation had achieved an underspend. Recruitment to the Olympic Security Directorate had been lower than expected, with experienced officers proving reluctant to leave their secure jobs for a short term project in uncertain times. At the end of August they were therefore under strength by 59 staff, 18% of the establishment. Mr Allison was confident that all these posts would be filled by April 2012.
Capital spending had also been lower than expected , coming in around £6 million under budget in the first quarter. Mr Allison put this down to good project management, but I pointed out that one man's good project management is another man's over budgeting. He assured us that the budget was likely to be fully committed by the end of the year because other projects were proving to be more costly, an example being the provision of police radio coverage in the Olympic Village.
Mr Allison was also keen to assure us that the level of abstraction of police from their home boroughs to supplement security was not going to be any higher than the routine experiences of covering football matches and other large events in the capital.
The committee explored the extent of liabilities resulting from claims under the Riot Damages Act. Bob Atkins, Treasurer of the MPA, told us that they had received 3844 applications for compensation under the Act. The smallest of these were for sums around £50k but the largest was for £100 million. Total costs were still being assessed but he expected the Home Office to meet a large part of the bill.