May 19 2013 Latest news:
Sarah Shaffi, Olympics editor (news)
Friday, May 18, 2012
A Bromley police officer will celebrate his birthday while guarding 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 Police Sergeant Alex Baldwin, who has served in Lambeth and is currently stationed in Bromley.
PS Baldwin, who has been with the Met Police for four years after serving six years with Hampshire Constabulary, applied to be part of the TST because he is a keen sportsman.
He will celebrate his 33rd birthday while out on the road, at which point the TST should be in Luton.
PS Baldwin, who plays rugby for his local club the Tonbridge Juddians, will be policing various legs of the relay including parts of Kent where he currently lives.
PS Baldwin said: “Training for this role is very different from anything that I have ever experienced and 70 days travelling around the UK will be an exciting prospect.
“This will be a once in a life time opportunity made even more special as I will be celebrating my birthday on the road.
“The Olympics in London will be a very exciting event showcasing sporting excellence. It is going to be a great chance to see athletes performing at their optimum.”
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.