A Labour MP is demanding answers from a security firm and charity after reports they bussed jobless people into London to work under appalling conditions during the Jubilee weekend.

Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, told The Huffington Post UK she wants to "get to the bottom of" a report in the The Guardian that said unemployed workers were made to sleep under London Bridge, especially as it happened to workers on placement for security firm Close Protection UK, which has also won the contract for the Olympic Games.

Pointing to the fact that companies have had a "long, long time" to prepare for these big events, she posed the question:

"Why did they not use people from London rather than bus in slave labour from outside? Is it an ideal thing to have people thrown in a the deep end for these big events?"

John Prescott has also said that he has written to the Home Secretary Theresa May demanding an inquiry into Close Protection UK, following the revelations.


John Prescott
I've called on the Home Secretary to launch an urgent inquiry into the story in the
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In the strongly worded letter the full version of which he has published on his blog "The People's Voice", he stresses that he is "deeply concerned" that a "private security firm is not only providing policing on the cheap but failing to show a duty of care to its staff.

"It also raises very serious questions about the suitability of using private security contractors to do frontline policing instead of trained police officers" he writes.

The former Deputy Prime Minster then calls on the Secretary of State to "urgently review CPUK’s contract to provide security during the Olympics."

According to The Guardian around 30 unemployed people and 50 people who had agreed to work on apprentice wages when they were picked up from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth on Friday night and taken to London.

Having arrived in the capital around 2.40am, the jubilee workers were told to camp under London Bridge before being roused at 5.00am and handed stewarding roles along the banks of the Thames.

Forced to change outside in the rain, given no access to toilets and working a 14-hour-shift, the stewards both told the paper that they had originally told they would be paid, only to be informed on the coach on Saturday that the Jubilee weekend was merely a trial for paid work at the Olympics. They refused to give their names in case they lost their benefits.

The level of training that volunteers received to work at the jubilee flotilla was one issue McCarthy was eager to probe, raising concerns over the safety of both members of the public and the workers at the event.

kerry mccarthy

Kerry McCarthy has said she is keen ask questions of the companies involved

Close Protection UK told The Guardian that it had spent a "considerable" amount of money training the stewards. However McCarthy told the Huffington Post UK that there are already lots of people who have an sia (security qualification) who are finding it difficult to get work"

Their placements at the security firm were set up by the charity Tomorrow's People in connection with the government's Work Programme, which aims to help the long term unemployed gain skills to help them get a job.

McCarthy described the workfare experience as "completely wrong" telling The Huffington Post UK : "It sounds hideous the way people were treated. They seem to have been thrown in at the deep end, lured in on the promise that they would get better wages at the Olympics."

McCarthy wondered if Close Protection had managed to win the Olympics and Jubilee contract "because they could offer this cheap labour? "

"Presumably Close Protection UK was paid for the contract: have they made lots of money by exploiting people or did Tomorrow's people get paid for it? Workfare is meant to be giving people experience not just providing cheap labour."

The firm told The Guardian that workers offered to be there voluntarily and the work would not affect their benefits. Cold, wet conditions were the "nature of the business," Molly Prince, managing director of Close Protection UK, said in a statement.

However following the uproar, Prince issued an apology to the stewards for the makeshift campsite under the bridge. She told The Guardian:

"For this we sincerely apologise, on investigation this morning the majority of the team were happy, fed and looked after as best possible under the circumstances.

"The London Bridge incident should never have happened but was to some extent outside our control, the coach drivers insisted on leaving."

Prince added that the stewards who performed unpaid work did so voluntarily because they wanted to continue to claim benefits.

McCarthy said Tomorrow's People and Close Protection UK would be her first point of call to ask questions, "rather than the government at this point, because it's all a bit sudden after the event. Although I don't think people would make something like this up."

The government's workfare scheme has come under criticism in the past, after a Tesco job advert offered "Job Seekers Allowance plus expenses" in wages.

The job post in February caused widespread outrage on social networks and amongst bloggers. One Tesco store was forced to shut down for a day after Boycott Workfare protestors demonstrated outside the Westminster branch. Following the furore a number of other high street businesses including Marks and Spencers and Burger King pulled out of the scheme.

Sunny Hundal, Guardian reporter and writer of Liberal Conspiracy blog wrote: "This is nothing less than modern slavery. Tesco should be ashamed of itself for exploiting workers like this."

The supermarket giant has said that the advert was an IT error, and that the position was not permanent but offered three night shifts of "valuable work experience" in exchange for Job Seeker's Allowance, with a guaranteed interview at the end.

Take a look at Tuesday's diamond jubilee pictures below
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  • (L-R) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Price Harry wave to the crowds from Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession after the service of thanksgiving at St.Paul's Cathedral on the Mall on June 5, 2012 in London, England. For only the second time in its history the UK celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of a monarch. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Thousands of wellwishers from around the world have flocked to London to witness the spectacle of the weekend's celebrations. (Photo credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team fly in formation over Buckingham Palace as The Royal family stand on the balcony on June 5, 2012 in London, England. For only the second time in its history the UK celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of a monarch. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Thousands of wellwishers from around the world have flocked to London to witness the spectacle of the weekend's celebrations. (Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

  • Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the service of thanksgiving at St.Paul's Cathedral on June 5, 2012 in London, England. For only the second time in its history the UK celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of a monarch. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Thousands of wellwishers from around the world have flocked to London to witness the spectacle of the weekend's celebrations. (Photo credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • (L-R) Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Price Harry wave to the crowds from Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee carriage procession after the service of thanksgiving at St.Paul's Cathedral on the Mall on June 5, 2012 in London, England. For only the second time in its history the UK celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of a monarch. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates the 60th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. Thousands of wellwishers from around the world have flocked to London to witness the spectacle of the weekend's celebrations. (Photo credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • British police lead flag waving crowds lining the monarch's route from the Houses of Parliament to Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations with a thanksgiving service and ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALLJOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Royal Air force Red Arrow display team fly pass Buckingham Palace in London where Britain Queen Elizabeth II watches from the palace balcony as part of a four-day Diamond Jubilee celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II accession to the throne, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Sang Tan)

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels through Trafalgar Square, London with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall on route to Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall in London.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Queen Elizabeth II travels by carriage to Buckingham Palace with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales after a lunch at Westminster Hall as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a lunch at Westminster Hall in London with 700 guests on the final day of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travel in a carriage to Buckingham Palace along The Mall, London.

  • Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travel in a carriage to Buckingham Palace along The Mall, London.

  • The Duchess of Cambridge arrives for a lunch at Westminster Hall in London with 700 guests on the final day of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a service of thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul's Cathedral, London.

  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave Westminster Hall after a Diamond Jubilee Luncheon given for The Queen by The Livery Companies of The City of London.

  • Members of the public gather along Whitehall to try and get a glimpse of the Queen on her way back to Buckingham Palace, London as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

  • Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu attend a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

  • Princess Beatrice attends a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waves next to the Dean of St. Paul's David Ison as she leaves St Paul's Cathedral after the National Service of Thanksgiving in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations and festivities will conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waves as she leaves St Paul's Cathedral after the National Service of Thanksgiving in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations and festivities will conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II walks down the staris next to the Dean of St. Paul's David Ison as she leaves St Paul's Cathedral after the National Service of Thanksgiving in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations and festivities will conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (Top C) and members of the Royal Family leave St Paul's Cathedral in London, following a service of thanksgiving on June 5, 2012, during the Queen's diamond jubilee. Queen Elizabeth II attended the final day of celebrations for her diamond jubilee Tuesday, but the pomp and splendour were marred by the absence of her husband Prince Philip after he was hospitalised. (Photo credit: JEFF J MITCHELL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Overall inside view taken as Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (bottom) arrives at St Paul's Cathedral for National Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations and festivities will conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: JEFF J MITCHELL/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (front R) and his wife Samantha Cameron (front L) and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (R) and his wife Miriam Gonzales leave St Paul's Cathedral after a National Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations and festivities will conclude with a ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Diamond Jubilee celebrations

    Queen Elizabeth II holds a bouquet of flowers as she returns to Buckingham Palace after attending a National Service of Thanksgiving and a Lunch in honour of her Diamond Jubilee.

  • Diamond Jubilee celebrations

    Queen Elizabeth II, followed by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, leave Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London, following the Diamond Jubilee Lunch.

  • Diamond Jubilee celebrations

    Queen Elizabeth II, followed by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, leave Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London, following the Diamond Jubilee Lunch.

  • Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attends a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. (Photo credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire)

  • Princess Beatrice (left) and Princess Eugenie leave following a service of thanksgiving, at Saint Paul's Cathedral, in central London. (Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

  • Zara Phillips leaves following a service of thanksgiving, at Saint Paul's Cathedral, in central London. (Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA )

  • Prime Minister David Cameron reads during the service of thanksgiving for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, at St Paul's Cathedral, London. (Photo credit should read: Tim Ireland/PA Wire)

  • Crowds watch as the royal motorcade passes along Parliament Street, in London. (Photo credit should read: Matthew Lloyd/PA Wire)

  • A service of thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II takes place at St Paul's Cathedral, London. (Photo credit: Murray Sanders/Daily Mail/PA Wire)

  • Prime Minister David Cameron and wife Samantha Cameron attend a service of thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul's Cathedral, London. (Photo credit: Murray Sanders/Daily Mail/PA Wire)

  • (left - right) Prime Minister David Cameron, chats with his wife Samantha Cameron, alongside Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez and Foreign Secretary, William Hague and his wife Ffion Hague, as they attend a National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in central London, as part of four days of celebrations to mark the Diamond Jubilee. (Photo credit: Joel Ryan/PA Wire)

  • Labour leader Ed Miliband attends a service of thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II at St Paul's Cathedral, London. (Photo credit should read: Suzanne Plunkett/PA Wire)

  • Princess Eugenie attends a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. (Photo credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire)

  • Sophie, Countess of Wessex attends a reception at Guildhall in central London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. (Photo credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire)

  • The Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince Harry, arrive at Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London, for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Lunch. (Photo credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

  • Queen Elizabeth II, followed by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge, arrives at Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London, for the Diamond Jubilee Lunch. (Photo credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

  • Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster, London, during her Diamond Jubilee Lunch. (Photo credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

  • Prime Minister David Cameron, Samantha Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg attend a service of thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II takes place at St Paul's Cathedral, London. (Photo credit: Suzanne Plunkett/PA Wire)

  • British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (R) and his wife Frances (L) arrive for a national service of thanksgiving for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at Saint Paul's Cathedral in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations with a thanksgiving service and ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)

  • British Foreign Secretary William Hague (L) and his wife Ffion (R) arrive for a national service of thanksgiving for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee at Saint Paul's Cathedral in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations with a thanksgiving service and ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Prince William (L) and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (R) leave Saint Paul's Cathedral after a national service of thanksgiving for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations with a thanksgiving service and ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) follows the Sword of State carried into St Paul's Cathedral for a national service of thanksgiving for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in London on June 5, 2012. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II wraps up four days of diamond jubilee celebrations with a thanksgiving service and ceremonial carriage procession in London, a formal contrast to the spectacular pop tribute staged outside Buckingham Palace the day before. (Photo credit: JEFF J MITCHELL/AFP/GettyImages)