Barnet prepares for Olympic Torch Relay

First published in News Times Series: Photograph of the Author by

As Barnet prepares for the arrival of the Olympic torch next Wednesday the council and Metropolitan Police are stepping up security in the borough.

As it travels through Barnet, the flame will be protected by a team of 70 police staff and officers including runners, motorcyclists, operational planners and tactical decision makers.

There will be 35 police runners accompanying the torch with at least three escorts keeping pace with the torch bearer at all times.

Officers on motorbikes will travel ahead of the torch relay to ensure the route is clear and safe, and officers on bicycles will work ahead of the relay liaising with the next torch bearer.

Assistant Commissioner, Chris Allison, national Olympic security co-ordinator, said: "The meticulous planning that the event organisers - LOCOG - have put into organising this spectacle is amazing.

“They have been working closely with a number of partners and agencies across the country including the police service.

“At the hearts of this event are 8,000 inspirational people who will have the chance of a lifetime to carry the Olympic flame and we are there to support them during that time.

“This is a truly unique event, and we, the police service, have also spent months planning.”

The same 70 police employees have travelled the country with the torch for the whole of its 70-day journey.

The team includes a number of Barnet-based officers.

PC Chris Healey, 30, who serves in the Territorial Support Group in Finchley, will be one of the 35 runners.

In his day to day role PC Healey deals with local issues such as burglary, as well as dealing with public order issues and policing protests.

He said: "The Olympics is the absolute pinnacle of sporting endurance and performance.

“I'm sure the rest of the UK and indeed the world is looking forward to watching this summer's incredible spectacle.

“In the same way I am looking forward to playing my role in delivering an important part of the Games."

Working with PC Healey is Edgware-based Jon Pilkington who will be a rehab therapist for the police team if injuries strike on the road.

He will travel in one of the touring buses making sure the team is fit to run and treating any injuries they sustain.

Mr Pilkington said: "It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of the Games in our own country. I'm really excited to see all of this happening as it's something I'm sure I'll never forget.”

PC Victoria Walker, 38, who lives in Barnet, is also accompanying the torch and is to police every fourth day of the relay.

She said: "I am really looking forward to putting into practice all that I have learnt over the past 18 months.

“London 2012 is going to be so special and will rejuvenate sport in the UK. Never underestimate what sport can do- it can change lives.

“In my job as a police officer I have had the opportunity to witness the difference in young people when they get involved in a sport, it gives them a focus and direction and can completely change their lives around.

“I really do hope that the Games will encourage as many people as possible to realise the benefit of sport.”

In addition to the police officers Barnet Council will be providing 197 stewards to assist along the route.
 

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