Organised crime gangs have already targeted London 2012 Olympics tickets, the police detective chief inspector Nick Downing said.
London police to crack down on criminal gangs
LONDON // Organised crime gangs have already targeted London 2012 Olympics tickets, the police detective chief inspector Nick Downing said yesterday.
"We are not talking about low-level criminal activity," Downing told a London 2012 briefing in which he outlined details of Operation Podium which will target touts, fraudsters and illegal websites.
"From our learning so far, we believe there are links with organised crime. Let's be honest, we are not going to stop it all but what we will do is make it as hard as possible for them to operate.
"If [the criminal gangs] have a business model they will hopefully look at London 2012 and think it's a risky environment to operate in."
Downing heads a team of 36 detectives specialising in organised crime and ticket fraud and in nine operations so far they have made 36 arrests, nearly all of them British citizens.
"This is the first time there has been a dedicated team to combat organised crime around an Olympics," Downing said. "We will do our best to protect it at every step."
The Metropolitan Police already has a list of hundreds of known ticket touts who have operated at other Olympics and last year's World Cup in South Africa.
Measures to stop them targeting London 2012 will include exclusion orders, fines of up to £5,000 (Dh29,500) and even jail sentences. "We want to make the Olympic Park a no-go zone for those known individuals who do not learn their lesson," Downing said.
Around 6.6 million tickets for the Games will go on public sale on March 15 for an initial six-week period with prices ranging from £20 up to £2,012 for the best opening ceremony seats.
Two million more will go to sponsors, National Olympic Committees (NOCs), sports federations and the International Olympic Committee.
Paul Deighton, the London Organising Committee chief executive, said ticket allocations to the 205 NOCs would be strictly controlled.
"The international markets are the hardest to monitor," he said. "But the warning signals are when the demand is not aligned to their populations or the interest normally shown in the Games, it's not hard to work out."