Protecting the Olympic Torch

Olympic Torch Security Team protecting the flame Credit: Peter Morrison/AP/Press Association Images

Throughout the relay, the torch is being protected by a Torch Security Team (TST), provided by the Metropolitan Police. Its role is to ensure that the flame and the 8,000 torchbearers take centre stage, and the relay passes off without incident.

The TST travels with the Olympic flame, from the moment it is handed over to LOCOG in Athens until it arrives at the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony. The same team will then travel with the Paralympic flame.

It is made up of around 70 staff and officers, including 35 ‘runners’ - a number of whom are from the Anglia region. Other members include motorcyclists, senior officers to make command and tactical decisions, communication officers to relay messages to the torch security team and operational planners.

Looking after the torch security is no mean feat, and members of the TST have been through 18 months of gruelling training to prepare for this unusual role.

PC Chris Morris, 27 is one of those from the Anglia region, who was chosen to take on this challenge. He was selected from an initial 664 applicants, following an eight month selection process. He says he is particularly looking forward to running through his home towns of Cambridge and Peterborough where he hopes friends and family will be lining the streets to cheer him on.

PC John Collins, 31, is another of those selected for the challenge. Originally from Norfolk and with friends and family in Cambridge, he will be policing various legs of the Relay including between Norwich and Ipswich, and on through Cambridge, where he hopes that friends and family will be lining the streets to cheer him on as he runs through.

PC John Collins is working as part of the Torch Security Team Credit: The Metropolitan Police

The TST work with local police to clear a pathway for the torchbearer as the relay progresses. Officers deployed on motorcycles travel in advance of the relay to check that there are no changing circumstances on the route. Pedal cyclists will work ahead of the relay, liaising with the torchbearer who is about to receive the flame.

‘Protective bubble’

A minimum of three TST escorts will keep pace with the torchbearer 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 exact number of officers deployed at any one time to run with the torchbearer and the tactics that they will use will be determined by a tactical commander based in a command vehicle in the convoy.