July 31 2014 Latest news:
Sarah Shaffi, Olympics editor (news)
Friday, May 18, 2012
Torchbearers will be protected by a special team of police officers while they are carrying the Olympic Torch.
The Met Police’s torch security team (TST) is made up of around 70 staff and officers, with 35 of these running alongside the Torch.
Among the team are Pc Mark Edwards, who is a Safer Neighbourhoods team officer in Havering; Police Sergeant Alex Baldwin, who is currently stationed in Bromley; and Sergeant Joanne Lewis, who has most recently served in Haringey on a response team dealing with 999 calls.
Traditionally it is the responsibility of the host city’s police force to guard the Flame, and it is written into the host city’s contract.
The TST, which started its duties when the Flame was handed to the London 2012 delegation in Athens, will be responsible for the safety and security of the Olympic and Paralympic Flames, and the immediate protection of the torchbearer holding the Flame.
The team will remain with the Flame until it arrives in the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony on July 27, and the same team will also travel with the Paralympic Flame.
In addition to the runners, the team includes motorcyclists, senior officers to make command and tactical decisions, communication officers to relay messages to the torch security team and operational planners.
Officers on motorbikes will travel ahead of the relay to check there are no changes on the route, while those on bikes will liaise with the torchbearer about to receive the Olympic Flame.
A minimum of three TST escorts will keep a pace with the torch bearer who is carrying the flame, forming a protective bubble around them. Officers will travel on a range of modes of transport and run up to 30 miles a day.
The team of officers were chosen from 664 applications, and were selected in 2010. The team had an eight month selection process, which included practical and written assessments, covering fitness, leadership, team building and communication skills.
Officers have been trained in self defence, first aid, communication and media handling.
They will be wearing charcoal running suits, with the MPS crest on the front right hand side of the top. The only equipment they will carry is a police radio.
Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison said: “I hope that the whole country comes alive and joins in the celebration as the Flame takes its journey around the country.
“The police service will be there to help ensure people can do that safely and securely.”