Local Woman Joanne Lewis Protects Torch
|Author: Beds Police||Published: 17th May 2012 13:47|
Jo LewisAs towns and communities across the UK begin the countdown to welcoming the Torch Relay through their streets, the Metropolitan Police Service's (MPS) specialist Torch Security Team (TST) is in its final days of preparation ahead of the torch being brought into the UK on Friday, 1 May.
For the TST team, known as "the runners," next week brings to an end, 18 months of gruelling training and final preparations to embark on what will be a unique role in British policing.
The runners are one element of the wider torch security team, which includes motorcyclists, pedal cyclists, senior officers and operational planners, who will ensure the integrity, safety and security of the Olympic and Paralympic Flames, plus the immediate protection of the Torch Bearer holding that flame.
Working as part of a team of who will travel with the Olympic Flame, from the moment it leaves Lands End until it arrives at the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony, is Sergeant Joanne Lewis, also known as ‘Jo' to her colleagues.
Sgt Lewis, aged 30 has most recently served in the London borough of Haringey on a response team dealing with 999 calls. Her job requires her to keep a cool head under pressure, skills that she will utilise while protecting the torch. Jo joined the MPS in 2002 policing the borough of Camden before moving into a specialist role investigating rape and serious sexual offences. She was chosen to take on this challenge from an initial 664 applicants and following an eight month selection process.
Originally from Bedfordshire, Jo will be policing the Relay every four days and is particularly looking forward to running close to where she currently lives in Essex.
Numerous hours have gone into preparing for the role but outside of work Jo has been preparing putting in many hours pounding the pavement as well as spending many hours in the gym.
Jo is a keen sportswoman and during her school years she was a member of every single sports team. As a child she showed a real talent for synchronised swimming, swimming up to nine times a week perfecting her skills. Jo has maintained her interest in sport through to adulthood and thoroughly enjoys team sports, with her participating MPS hockey team.
Once the Games begin Jo is looking forward to watching the synchronised swimming and has high hopes for Team GB. With great admiration for athletes who participate in the decathlon and heptathlon she is also looking forward to seeing these athletes showcasing their dedication to the sport and diverse range of skills.
Sergeant Joanne Lewis said: "I am looking forward to people welcoming the torch and the start of the Olympics. It will be a great atmosphere as people will be very patriotic and excited. The Olympics is a fantastic platform to unite and bring people together through sport. To be a part of it all is a once in a lifetime experience- one I will probably never forget."
The Metropolitan Police Service will be providing a Torch Security Team (TST) for the Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays. The MPS is performing this role as in previous Games it has traditionally been the responsibility of the host city police force, and it is written to the host city contract. The TST will work with the local police force in every area the Torch travels through.
The TST will travel 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.
The team is made up of approximately 70 staff and officers, which includes 35 'runners'. 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.
The TST and local police force will clear a pathway for the Torchbearer as the Relay progresses. Officers deployed on motorcycles will 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 Torch Bearer who is about to receive the flame.
A minimum of three Torch Security Team escorts will keep 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 exact number of officers deployed at any one time to run with the Torch Bearer and the tactics that they will use will be determined by a tactical commander based in a command vehicle in the convoy.
The TST will always aim to ensure that the flame and Torch Bearer take centre stage.
(image supplied by Beds Police)