The army is considering stationing soldiers and missiles on top of a block of residential flats in East London during this summer’s Olympic Games.
The residents of private flats at the Lexington Building Water Tower in Bow, which is home to 700 people, have received leaflets warning them that a “high-velocity missile system” could be placed on the water tower to ward off any airborne terrorist attack during the Games. Residents are unimpressed, fearing that if the missiles were used, people living in the high-density area would be showered with debris.
The news follows reports in March that the Ministry of Defence is considering installing a Rapier surface-to-air missile system on Blackheath in southeast London as one of six potential missile bases in the capital.
Already the 2012 Olympics is seeing the biggest mobilisation of military and security forces in Britain since the Second World War, with around 13,500 troops to be drafted onto the streets of London – more than are deployed in Afghanistan.
In addition to these and record numbers of police, private security companies such as G4S have a £130 million Olympic security contract. There will also be, it is estimated, some 1,000 armed US diplomatic and FBI agents and 55 dog teams patrolling the perimeter of the main Olympic zone, which will be protected by an 11-mile, 5,000-volt electric fence.
The Royal Navy’s largest ship, the 22,500-tonne helicopter carrier HMS Ocean will be based in Greenwich for the duration of the Games, and the assault vessel HMS Bulwark will be moored in Weymouth, home of the sailing events. New checkpoints and police control centres are being set up across the capital. Unsurprisingly, security costs for the Olympics have almost doubled to £553m.