Police plan massive presence for Notting Hill event

IN the wake of London rioting, Notting Hill carnival will see the highest number of police officers on duty in the event’s 47-year history, police sources have said.

Double the number of officers that policed the Royal wedding will be on duty at the carnival next weekend, with the Met planning 20,000 shifts split over the two-day event, it is understood.

By contrast, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s April wedding day saw 5,000 Metropolitan police officers on duty in London.

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Carnival organisers said about 500 stewards will be on duty, an increase of 25 per cent on last year, to help to ensure there would be no repeat of the violence seen during the London riots.

Christopher Boothman, one of the organisers of the carnival, said he expects the extra police would be added to reserves that will be on alert at fixed locations around the carnival to respond to any trouble.

“There are normally significant numbers of police at Notting Hill on the off-chance that something might happen,” he said.

“They are in buildings around the carnival and the public probably don’t see them.”

Mr Boothman, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said he hoped policing at the carnival would “not be oppressive” and that “there is a balance they (the police) need to get right”.

He said organisers would close the carnival “in a staggered fashion” until about 7pm each day, so people would gradually leave as the event wound down.

Mr Boothman said he was “surprised” by how much support this year’s carnival has received from local residents compared to previous years.

“Some people are saying we need to reclaim the streets and show people that they can’t stop us doing what we want to do,” he said.

“Others think cancelling the event might cause a (violent) reaction.”

In the aftermath of the riots there were questions over this year’s Notting Hill Carnival, but organisers met with the authorities and agreed a strategy including earlier start and finish times to help minimise the risk of problems.

Some officers from Yorkshire forces were sent to the capital to help with policing as the riots developed and it is expected they will remain in London until at least the end of the carnival, though forces locally will not discuss the exact numbers involved.