Once all the infrastructure is put in place, theres a risk that thats the legacy of the Olympics: that everyday life in London becomes far more restricted and inhibited by a security apparatus which people have come to see during the games, that might not necessarily be dismantled, Pickles said.
At a time of sharp cuts in social services across Britain, the budget for Olympics security has doubled to more than $850 million. Security experts defend the measures, given the size of the target and the fact that this is the 40th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Olympics in Munich.
The vast majority of the British public would rather be safe than sorry, said Margaret Gilmore, a homeland security analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, a defense and security research center. They do care about this whole fiasco with G4S, but while some might worry about the cost, the vast majority really just want to be safe.
Earlier this month, a judge rebuffed residents of one East London apartment block who sued the government after they were told that surface-to-air missiles would be positioned on the roof of their building, about two miles from the Olympic Stadium, to enforce a no-fly zone over the area. The judge ruled that the British Defense Ministry didnt need to ask the residents permission before putting the missiles in place.
Five other buildings also have been named as sites for rooftop missile batteries, including the Lexington building on Fairfield Road in the Bow section of East London, less than a half-mile from Olympic Park. The missiles arent visible from the street, however, and residents who were interviewed Tuesday about their apartments newfound counter-terrorism role reacted with the studied nonchalance thats practically a British pastime.
Im indifferent, said Peter Fawcett, whos 29. Some people were annoyed, and they organized meetings to protest it. But were so close . . . that we were going to be affected anyway. I guess Id sooner have it there and not need it than need it and not have it.
As for the security onslaught, Fawcetts companion, 23-year-old Clare McAnaney, offered that there was a positive side to seeing thousands of large, uniformed men on the streets of central London.
The women love it, she said.