The annual Notting Hill Carnival saw more than 150 people arrested and four people stabbed on the first day of celebrations.
Carnical News 19th August 2016
Four people were stabbed in the space of half an hour as the landmark 50th anniversary of Europe's largest celebration of African-Caribbean culture exploded into violence on London's streets.
Scotland Yard said arrests were made over drugs, possession of knives, assault and sexual offences.
A 15-year-old was stabbed in Wornington Road and a 14-year-old was arrested for GBH.
Three other males, aged 15 to 20, were also wounded in knife attacks at the opening day of the two-day festival.
The lighter side of an event steeped in community history going back to the mid 1960s – which saw twerking as the main theme of videos emerging on social media among both officers and festival-goers – quickly turned ugly on Sunday (August 28).
More than 13,000 officers are on duty – policing an estimated one million visitors – at the traditional riot of music and dance. It climaxes with a Grand Finale on Bank Holiday Monday, making it the largest yearly Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) operation.
The 105 arrests on Children's Day resulted in 136 alleged offences – the vast majority for drug possession (74), knife carrying (24), actual body harm (nine), public order (nine) plus other assault and sexual offences.
The MPS tweeted a photo of 150 nitrous oxide canisters and alcohol – with a street value of £2,000 – seized by officers at the carnival which were being sold illegally.
The first stabbing, just 4.30pm, was in Wornington Road, the MPS said. A 15-year-old boy was taken to hospital, where his condition is described as critical but not life threatening.
Police were called at 5.09pm to reports of a stabbing in Ladbroke Grove at the junction with Treverton Street.
A 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy were found with stab wounds and taken to a central London hospital.
Police said neither boy's condition was believed to be life-threatening, and no arrests had been made.
A man presented himself to officers at Kensal Rise tube station and told them he had been stabbed resulting in a cut to the head.
Police said he declined to provide further details and subsequently left the scene. Enquiries are ongoing.
Just minutes later a second stabbing took place on Portobello Road, at the junction with Munro Mews.
A 20-year-old man was taken by London Ambulance Service to a central London hospital where his condition is not life threatening. There have been no arrests and inquiries continue.
The violence continued with a double stabbing of two boys, aged 15 and 16, in Ladbroke Grove, at its junction with Treverton Street, which happened just after 5pm.
Both were taken to a central London hospital. Both boys' conditions are not life threatening.
In the run-up to the event, one of perennial questions to tax the MPS officers is whether or not to dance at Notting Hill.
Force carnival spokesperson Superintendent Robyn Williams says she certainly doesn’t want to see stony faces and crossed arms, but says dancing is discretionary.
“We don’t tell our officers not to dance – the music can be seductive, it is difficult not to want to move, we’re only human,” added Supt Williams, who is the deputy head of training for the MPS.
“We do remind our officers that they are there for a specific role and to always have their mind on that.
“Some people love to see police officers immersed in the carnival, dancing and having fun, but anything that goes viral on social media will be met with a chorus of dissenting voices – ‘you shouldn’t be doing that’,” she said.
Her advice to carnival-goers: “Please don’t be offended if an officer declines to have a dance, they might prefer not to – or simply have no rhythm,” she laughs.
There is a three-tiered command structure in place for the event – gold commander David Musker, who sets the strategy, silver commander Jane Connors, who delivers the tactical plan, and then a number of 'bronzes' spread across the carnival, including Supt Williams.
This year, carnival organisers have doubled their own number of stewards, with the force's strategic engagement officers ready to be dispatched with community 'ambassadors' to calm any rising tensions down.
“These are young, energised, brilliant officers who all understand the different music scenes from grime through to soca, and the audiences that might be attracted to the different sound systems,” she told The Guardian.
The daughter of Jamaican immigrants, Supt Wlliams see the celebration as a "shared sense of pride" for minority migrant communities.
She says she will enjoy the fun but won't be having a dance herself. “I will leave it to the police cadets, but I will have a smile on my face,” she added.
Founded in 1966 by West Indian immigrants, the Notting Hill Carnival – the world's second-largest carnival and Europe's largest street music festival – has a chequered history of violence mixed with exuberant celebration.
The 2008 festivities ended in a street riot and last year, 407 people were arrested, marking a new record for the festival.