The £1m cost of policing the Northern Ireland Olympic torch relay

Help Me Investigate contributor Gesbeen Mohammad has written for Northern Ireland investigative site The Muckraker on the costs of policing the Olympic Torch Relay in the region.

She writes:

“The final bill for taxpayers came to £1,029,749 – £205,950 for every day the torch spent in the region, according to information revealed by Freedom of Information requests.

“In comparison London’s Metropolitan Police Service spent less than £150,000 for every day the torch spent in the capital. The Service covers a population more than six times larger than Northern Ireland’s.

“Debra Whyte, media centre manager for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said: “The additional costs were due to the Olympic Torch Relay falling over two public holidays in Northern Ireland, and covering a larger geographical area.”

“Police in Wales, however, covering an area a third larger than Northern Ireland, also spent less.”

Wealthy London boroughs paid less for Olympic Torch Relay – investigation

Image attribution: Angryoffinchley

Image: Angryoffinchley

London boroughs with the poorest populations paid more to host Olympic Torch Relay events, while more affluent boroughs spent nothing, according to an investigation by Help Me Investigation users.

Waltham Forest spent over £250,000 whereas Westminster incurred no costs.

Government data shows that Westminster has more than six times the number of active businesses compared with Waltham Forest, despite having a smaller population. Continue reading

Correction: CCTV spending by Aberdeen City, not Aberdeenshire Council

We previously reported that Aberdeenshire had spent part of their torch relay funds on CCTV. This should have said Aberdeen City Council.

We apologise for the error. The original post, and the database, have been corrected.

Aberdeen City Council’s torch relay expenditure can be found here.

Aberdeenshire Council’s funding of torch relay costs can be found here; it is also detailed below.

  • Staff Costs £ 5,912.30
  • Road Closures/Advertisements etc £ 7,640.67
  • Construction Costs £ 4,026.20
  • Vehicle Charges £ 1,613.25
  • Florescent Vests £ 200.00 (retained for future use)
  • Event at Balmoral Castle £ 7,988.62
  • Total Cost £27,381.04

Conflicts of interest revealed over Cultural Olympiad funding in Yorkshire

Help Me Investigate user Carol Lee has been investigating the way that Cultural Olympiad funding was allocated in Yorkshire, with the results published this week in Arts Professional.

Despite being named ‘Artists taking the lead’, and Arts Council England guidelines stating that projects “had to be artist-led and that local authorities and higher education institutions were ineligible”, the report details “Blatant breaches of funding rules, panel members with vested interests and disproportionate interaction between Arts Council England (ACE).”

“[T]he winning Yorkshire bid was led by Leeds Canvas, a consortium of the city’s major arts providers that included Leeds Metropolitan University Gallery and Studio Theatre, Leeds City Council, and Council-owned Leeds Art Gallery, as well as Opera North, Northern Ballet Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Yorkshire Dance, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Situation Leeds.

“Whereas the other projects shortlisted were proposed by the artists who would lead them, the initial Leeds Canvas proposal was put forward by Yorkshire Dance Chief Executive Wieke Eringa and included neither the names of the artists who would deliver their project nor the details of the artistic concept. Despite this, the bid was one of only five shortlisted to go through to the second stage of ACE’s selection process.”

You can read more about what Carol uncovered at Arts Professional.

The experience of the torchbearer – and the executives who carried the Olympic torch on just one day – 8,000 Holes part 5

Get the free ebook for the full story: 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way - Leanpub.com/8000holes

In the final part of the serialisation of Help Me Investigate’s first ebook – 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way we look at how the story affected one inspirational individual who did carry the torch – and the executives who carried the torch on the day the torch passed through Jack Binstead’s borough. You can download the book for free – or choose to pay a donation, with all proceeds going to the Brittle Bone Society – at Leanpub.com/8000holes

Part 5: 8,000 Holes

In June 2011, when the design for the official Olympic torch was unveiled, the Chair of LOCOG Sebastian Coe had said:

“The Torch that carries the Olympic Flame during the Olympic Torch Relay is one of the most recognisable and significant symbols of an Olympic Games. Members of the public right across the UK are busy nominating inspiring people to be Torchbearers and I am thrilled we have a beautifully designed, engineered and crafted Torch for them to carry.

“Integral to the design are the 8,000 circles, a lasting representation of the Torchbearer stories of personal achievement or contribution to their local community that will be showcased with every step of the Relay.”

But too many of those 8,000 circles turned out to be merely holes where local heroes should have been. The “message of inclusion” which the torch was supposed to represent had been replaced with a repeated message of exclusion. At almost every point where places were split up, a proportion was siphoned for allocation through non-public processes, whether the 15% of Lloyds TSB places for staff; the 10% of Samsung’s places; Coca Cola’s nomination judges carrying the torch as Future Flames, or the corporate partners who rewarded board members and business partners. Continue reading

Mystery torchbearers search hits halfway mark

The search to identify 500 torchbearers without stories has hit the 50% mark, thanks to dozens of people scouring the list of names to find records elsewhere.

Among the names are well-known celebrities, sportspeople and individuals who have contributed to their community. But there are also IOC members, journalists and executives. Those confirmed include:

How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay lost its way part 2: The presenting partners

Get the free ebook for the full story: 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way - Leanpub.com/8000holes

In the second part of a serialisation of Help Me Investigate’s first ebook – 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way we look at how the presenting partners’ allocation of torchbearer places was handled. You can download the book for free – or choose to pay a donation, with all proceeds going to the Brittle Bone Society – at Leanpub.com/8000holes

Part 2: Getting your money’s worth

Once the Presenting Partners were able to start awarding torchbearer places, each handled their allocation differently.

As the only national presenting partner, Lloyds TSB allocated their places through two UK-wide campaigns: one through Lloyds TSB itself, and another through Bank of Scotland. The bank said they would give the opportunity to “people who have made a difference in their community”.

An analysis of the data on both banks’ official torchbearer sites, however, finds almost 500 of their 1,360 places unaccounted for, and when pressed, the bank admits that: Continue reading

How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay lost its way part 1: Jack Binstead’s story

Get the free ebook for the full story: 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way - Leanpub.com/8000holes

This is the first part of a serialisation of Help Me Investigate’s first ebook – 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way. You can download the book for free – or choose to pay a donation, with all proceeds going to the Brittle Bone Society – at Leanpub.com/8000holes

Part 1: Where did the torchbearer places go?

Jack Binstead is one of the UK’s most promising young athletes: a wheelchair racer in with a chance of competing in the next Paralympic Games. Born with brittle bone disease he has, says his mother Penny, broken 64 bones in his body over just 15 years.

“At the age of nine he was a very down young boy,” she explains. “He was very overweight – he didn’t know which way to go. But when he went to a taster session for children with special needs, the borough’s Head of Sports saw in Jack that he would be good at wheelchair racing. He recommended that Jack try wheelchair racing at a local track in Kingston called Kingsmeadow.”

Continue reading

Investigation into today’s torchbearers in German daily Der Tagesspiegel

der Tagesspiegel's story on the corporate Olympic torchbearers

German daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel has published a story on German executives carrying the Olympic torch after spotting our list of ‘mystery torchbearers‘ on the Guardian’s datablog.

The story, entitled ‘The Olympics and Samsung: Questionable selection of torchbearers’, was published on Sunday. In it, Claudia von Salzen writes:

“As the list of German participants shows, those people nominated by Samsung have apparently been accepted. This means that at least 18 German torchbearers have been chosen out of business interests. And therefore actually not because they had “excelled at special merits in the spirit of the Olympic idea”, as the company had announced in May.”

We’ve translated the entire article into English below: Continue reading