Last weekend, Tom Brake MP joined up with London’s Met Police at the Notting Hill Carnival, to see the police force in action during one of London’s biggest events of the summer.
The origins of the Notting Hill Carnival date back to 1964 when the Capital's Caribbean communities began celebrating their culture and traditions. This strong Caribbean influence remains today, with West London packed with steel bands, Calypso music and hundreds of food stalls, creating a party atmosphere that has made Notting Hill Carnival Europe’s biggest street festival.
The bank holiday event saw over one hundred thousand people hit the streets of Notting Hill. Tom saw first hand the challenges that London’s police force faces, with 7,000 officers deployed that day on the streets to ensure the safety of the public and tackle crime. Despite there being many arrests, Tom was particularly impressed by the Met’s efforts in stopping potential trouble-makers from entering the carnival area, intervening at the earliest possible stage to prevent incidents or situations escalating.
For the third year running, the Met also used ‘super recogniser’ officers who monitor the event live from a central CCTV room. These are highly skilled officers who can recall the faces, names, birth dates and other details of offenders, years after seeing them either in person or on file.
It is possible that next year, as a result of cuts to police budgets, far fewer officers will be deployed.
Tom Brake commented:
“Since becoming an annual event in 1966, the Notting Hill Carnival has been transformed from a small indoor event into one that generates an estimated £93m for the London economy. The work that the Met Police do has allowed the Carnival to grow and yet remain a safe and family friendly weekend and has been vital in ensuring its continued success. Next year the Mayor must ensure the event is properly policed, as the public’s enjoyment depends on it. If he doesn’t, this could threaten the future of this colourful event.”