London 2012: Havering police officer on Olympic Torch security team
A Havering police officer is among the special team of police officers protecting the Olympic Flame during the torch relay.
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.
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.
Among the team is Pc Mark Edwards, who is a Safer Neighbourhoods Team officer in Havering.
Pc Edwards has been a serving officer for 25 years and is looking forward to running through his former home town of Swansea and also Basildon, Essex, where he currently lives.
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He said: “For me, the Olympics are an amazing event that brings the world together. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, something to tell your grandchildren about, and I’m really looking forward to playing my part in this historic moment.
“I’m also working with a fantastic team of colleagues, and I know we’re all determined to make sure what we allow each torch bearer to enjoy their well deserved moment of a life time.”
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As part of his training Pc Edwards cut out “bad” food and completed marathons in London and New York.
The 44-year-old is involved with fundraising for charity, and is a trustee of J-A-C-K.org, a children’s charity that raises money for treatment of childhood cancers and research.
As part of his fundraising efforts Pc Edwards arranges for around 100 officers to travel to New York every year to run a half marathon in Central Park to raise funds.
He also organises the “Pull a Plane” event at JFK airport where officers from the Met compete against US law enforcement teams.
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.