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How topping! Olympic Park fence electrified from mid 2010 to 22nd October 2012

For the Olympics the abnormal becomes normal. One of the most astonishing things to happen at London 2012 was the building of an electrified fence around the Olympic Park. The idea that this was necessary or sensible was seldom questioned. It may well be that most people didn’t even realise it had been done. People were constantly surprised when I pointed it out to them. But even those who did know of it probably thought the electricity was only on during the Games. Not so.

In December I asked the ODA

‘Is the electric fence around the Olympic Park still in use as an electric fence? If not, when was it last operated as an electric fence?’

They told told me they didn’t have that information and referred me to the LLDC as they had

‘handed over a working security system, including an electric topping, to the LLDC on 22nd October 2012. As LLDC were responsible for the security of the Olympic Park, ODA is unable to provide any information on the current state or future use of the perimeter fence or the electric topping.’

So off I trekked to the LLDC. But they denied they had ever used the electric fence. They said the fence was

‘last used as an electric fence before 22nd October when the Olympic Delivery Authority handed over the security system to the Legacy Development Corporation’

So it seemed the people who knew when it was last used as an electric fence were indeed the ODA! Back I went. When I asked for a review of the original response the ODA was unrepentant. They insisted the response was appropriate and did not fail to answer my question as to when the electric fence was last used. They said they had confirmed handing over the fence with its electric topping and had no knowledge of its use after that date. They then declared:

‘it also follows logically from the ODA’s response together with LLDC’s response that the electric fencing was last used on 22nd October’.

So that meant the electric fence was still in use over a month after the Paralympic Games had ended. I decided to check when the fence was first operated as an electric fence. The ODA told me

‘The electric topping was installed gradually in sections from about mid 2010. Sections that had been installed and operational were routinely switched off for safety reasons and to allow works to be undertaken on or in the vicinity of the perimeter fence. The electrical topping could not be considered fully operational until just before the Games when all works were complete.’

As can be seen in the first response the ODA specialises in being unspecifically specific, or maybe that should be specifically unspecific. So the electricity was turned off to allow work to be done or for unspecified 'safety reasons', which means it was turned on when works were not in progress or there weren't any safety issues. The abnormal ODA was operating an electric fence in the heart of East London from mid 2010 until 22nd October 2012, about two and a quarter years. When asked why the electric fence was still in use after the Paralympics the ODA could only reply

‘The electric topping remained operational after the Paralympic Games as it alarmed when touched. To switch it off would have required additional patrols to achieve the same level of security’.

It was alarmed? Surely if they turned the electricity off the alarm would be cut off as well? More patrols? So they were using an electrified fence to save money?

The abnormality of the ODA’s operation is demonstrated by the fact that the electricity was turned off as soon as the fence was handed over. Either they turned off the security system before handing it over or the slightly saner LLDC switched it off the moment they took control. This isn't entirely clear as the LLDC said the system was last used 'before' 22nd October while the ODA claims it was 'last used' when it was handed over 'on' 22nd October. Either way, the Park had been just a building site for over a month. But then that's what it was for nearly all the time the paranOiDA had been operating the electric fence.

Anyone heard any alarms recently at the Olympic Park?

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