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Jubilee Stewards: Security Industry Watchdog To Probe Claims Over Close Protection UK

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JUBILEE WORKERS EXPLOITATION JOHN PRESCOTT
The SIA has decided to investigate claims following complaints from Lord John Prescott | PA/Getty

The security industry watchdog is looking into allegations that a firm made unpaid workers sleep rough under a bridge in central London before being deployed as marshals for last week's Jubilee river pageant, it has been confirmed .

The Security Industry Authority has written to Wigan-based Close Protection UK after complaints from former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott.

A spokesman said that a decision would be made on whether to launch a formal investigation into the company once it has had a chance to reply.

Lord Prescott wrote to home secretary Theresa May, arguing that the SIA should strip CPUK of its approved contractor status (ACS) on the grounds that it no longer meets the authority's "fit and proper person criteria".

Following reports in The Observer that the founder of Close Protection UK (CPUK), Molly Prince, has a conviction for perverting the course of justice, the former deputy prime minister told Huff Post UK there were serious questions about whether they are “a fit and proper company” to have a fire safety contract at the 2012 games.

"It beggars belief that Molly Prince and CPUK have been allowed by Locog to look after fire safety for the Olympic venues,” he told The Huffington Post UK.

“Locog could be potentially putting spectators’ lives at risk for the sake of going for the cheapest bid. The public would much rather see trained fire officers on call then inexperienced and poorly trained young people," he said.

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According to The Guardian around 30 unemployed people and 50 people who had agreed to work on apprentice wages were picked up from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth last week 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 told the paper that they'd been 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.

A separate investigation has already been launched by the Prospects Group, the company responsible for providing the government's Work Programme scheme in south-west England, into claims that unpaid Jubilee workers were left stranded. CPUK has already apologised over the incident.

An SIA spokesman said: "SIA policy is to make inquiries into all allegations we receive concerning non-conformance with ACS requirements. We do not comment on individual cases. The register of approved contractors, and the standards required to meet approval, can be found on the SIA website."

Lord Prescott said he was now awaiting an "urgent response" to his letter to Olympic organisers Locog into CPUK's contract to provide fire marshals for Games venues.

"I believe the safety of spectators, staff and competitors is of the utmost importance and we need to be assured that CPUK can deliver this," he said.