From his unique vantage point inside the Police Gold Command Team in Weymouth, Dr Dave Sloggett reflects on the last two weeks and the delivery of a safe and secure Olympic Games from all the emergency services:
With the lowering of the Olympic Flag the mantle of host city passes to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The closing ceremony was also the moment that those involved in the security cordon around the Olympic Games breathed a collective sigh of relief. Despite some dire forecasts and serious teething issues at the start of the event, the police, military and private security contactors G4S have delivered a safe and secure Olympic Games. Given the uncertainty that exists on the international security landscape at the moment that achievement was no mean feat.
For those tempted to question the scale of the operation, a moment's reflection is in order. The nature of the threat from terrorism changed fundamentally on 11 September 2001. This was not the act of a group that had a recognised political agenda. It was mass murder, pure and simple.
In Madrid, meanwhile, the terrorists chose a target at rush hour. Fourteen bombs were placed on four trains that detonated over a two minute window. Given the scale of the attack and the deliberate attempt to target rush hour it was amazing that less than 200 people died. At that point over 5,000 people in Madrid were in the cross wires. Had the terrorists achieved their aims the death toll would have been so much larger.
On 6 July 2005 - the day after the International Olympic Committee awarded the games of the XXXth Olympiad to London - 52 people died as three terrorists detonated bombs in an initial one minute window that was followed by a fourth bomb nearly an hour later. As with Madrid, a detailed analysis of the pattern of detonations on the Underground shows that had the timing varied slightly the death toll would have been so much worse.
In Mumbai a carefully planned and orchestrated attack saw nearly 200 people killed, as terrorists conducted a systematic spree shooting and seizure of hostages. Events in Norway and more recently in Aurora and Wisconsin in the United States provided additional evidence if any were actually needed of the death toll that could arise from a single lone gunman.
That was not the end of it. In Northern Ireland on the day of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games dissident Irish republican groups chose to announce that they were uniting and giving a re-birth to the Irish Republican Army. Given the backdrop of increasing sectarian violence and the attempt to disrupt the journey of the Olympic Torch that occurred when it visited Northern Ireland, the potential for either a sophisticated hoax or real attack from the re-born IRA had to be considered.
Regarding Muslim extremists, the question had to be asked - could a group have been trained and held back with the specific objective of attacking the Games? Operating below the intelligence services' radar screen, real concerns surrounded a bolt-from-the-blue attack. This could have also come from a single disenfranchised lone wolf whose mindset had been shaped by a deep seated sense of grievance.
In the run up to the start of the games, the police and their security colleagues had conducted a number of high profile arrests. A message was being sent out. That - coupled with the high profile arrival of HMS Ocean in the Pool of London, Typhoon fighter jets and surface-to-air missile systems ringing London hammered the point home. Despite the austere times every effort was being made to secure the games. Ministers who had professed a willingness to take risks in defence and security in order to cut departmental budgets were not prepared to take a risk with the Olympics. That was a reputational issue for the country.
In the end nothing untoward came to fruition. As ever people will speculate as to whether the reported budget of £500 million was too much. The simple fact is that we will never know the answer to that question. What we do know is that the games passed off peacefully. That is probably a result of a combination of things.
The careful planning, emphasis on detailed study of key terrorist attacks and tactics, and developing counters to them helped create a resilient posture. It is also likely that the high visibility policing would have had a deterrent effect on any wannabe terrorist - they do not want to die needlessly, and an attack would need a high-casualty target to have the desired effect on the population. The presence of more military unquestionably added to that impact.
There are other factors too - for instance, Al Qaeda's obvious problems in conducting any form of terrorist activity outside a small number of countries where it has an established footprint. It is very possible to argue that we benefited from holding the games in 2012.
How that international security landscape will change in the next four years before the flag is raised over the new stadium in Rio de Janeiro is hard to guess. However, it is very unlikely that even in four years international terrorism will have been consigned to history.
Returning to the events of the last two weeks it would be wrong not to praise the work of the police, their multi-agency colleagues and the military for stepping up the mark when a response was required. Many of them were understandably looking a bit tired on Sunday night. But as the fireworks lit up the closing ceremony they could bask in the limelight of a job superbly well done.