Most people had a fantastic time at Notting Hill carnival, says Met police chief | Notting Hill carnival

Most people had a fantastic time at Notting Hill carnival, says Met police chief | Notting Hill carnival

Most people attending the Notting Hill carnival had a “fantastic time”, the head of the Metropolitan police has said while also expressing concern over violent incidents committed by a “small number of very dangerous people”.

The comments by Sir Mark Rowley, Metropolitan police commissioner, came as Rishi Sunak used stabbing incidents at the event to help justify new powers against so-called zombie knives and machetes.

Joining the prime minister on a visit to Kilburn police station in north London, Rowley said about two-thirds of stabbing murders in London involved these types “ghastly weapons”.

The organisers of the Notting Hill carnival said they “deplore all acts of violence” after a number of stabbings at the festival on Monday, its final day.

Two men are in hospital, with one, a 29-year-old, in a critical condition, after incidents at the west London street party, which attracted an estimated 2 million people over the bank holiday weekend. The other man, 19, is in a serious but stable condition.

Police said six other men, aged 18, 19, 20, 25, 28 and 40, sustained non-life threatening injuries in separate stabbing incidents on the same day.

There were 275 arrests during the two days of the carnival, with 165 arrests on Monday for a range of offences including possession of offensive weapons, assaults on police officers, possession of drugs and sexual offences.

Speaking before the visit to Kilburn, Rowley said he was worried about the use of weapons at the carnival and would work with organisers to improve safety, but praised the “fantastic heritage” of Europe’s largest street party.

He declined to comment on calls by Susan Hall, the Conservative London mayoral candidate for 2024, for the carnival to be moved from the streets of west London to a park.

“We’re not the organisers of the carnival. It’s an amazing community event with over a million people attending and it’s got such a fantastic heritage,” he said. “We will be reviewing what’s gone on with the organisers and looking at what more can be done to improve safety, and what more can be done to help keep away the small number of very dangerous people who turn up there.

“But you’ve got a million people there turning up and having a fantastic time. We’ve got to be careful how we refer to it. But I am worried about the weapons and the incidents we saw.”

But Hall had said police “don’t want to be there”. She was criticised for saying the week before the carnival that it was “dangerous” and should be moved, and has previously said she should not be accused of racism for saying there were “problems with crime in the black community”.

People flocked to the annual celebration of Caribbean culture and history, which this year also marked the 75th anniversary of the Windrush arrival, and thousands took part in a jubilant adult parade that closed the festival on Monday.

The organisers said they deplored acts of violence that had “nothing to do with Notting Hill carnival and its values”, noting that 12,786 knife offences were carried out in the capital over the 12 months to the end of March.

Sunak, speaking alongside Rowley, said the incidents at the carnival were a “good illustration” of the need to act on knife crime.

The Home Office has announced new powers for police to seize and destroy “zombie knives” and machetes that have no practical use, with a two-year maximum jail sentence for the importation, manufacturing, possession and sale of the weapons.

A new offence will be introduced for possessing bladed articles “with the intention to endanger life or cause fear of violence”. The measures were proposed in April, and will be put into law “when parliament allows” after a public consultation.

Sunak told reporters: “I’m grateful to the police for all their efforts to ensure the safety of the carnival and it’s a good illustration of why we need to take action.

“That’s why we consulted on these measures earlier in the year. That’s why we’ve spoken to the police to hear first-hand from them what do they need to keep reducing knife crime, and today’s powers will help them do that.”

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2023/aug/30/notting-hill-carnival-violence-stabbings

Recommended For You