Notting Hill Carnival poses a "real risk to public safety" and needs to be re-examined to ensure it remains a safe and positive experience for all. That's the conclusion of a new report from the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee which notes that 2016 saw four stabbings so serious the victims nearly died.
It is one of Europe's largest carnivals with up to 7,000 police on duty, 50,000 performers and a million visitors. "We now appear to have reached a tipping point where the status quo is not an option. Carnival needs to be re-examined to ensure it remains a safe and positive experience for all," it concludes.
"What we are now seeing is a rise in more serious and violent crimes: this year four stabbings almost became murders. Although the rise in serious violence might be a reflection of a wider problem, it nonetheless risks people’s safety at Carnival and its reputation. The Met and partners are making determined efforts to prevent these types of crimes from taking place, but there is merit in looking at what more can be done to help them prevent crime both prior to, and during, Carnival.
"Arrests at Carnival are made for a wide range of offences. These include public order; drugs; theft; and assault. Traditionally, the vast majority of offences have been related to theft and drugs. The number of violent crimes, however, is rising. This year, there were 90 arrests for possession of weapons offences—compared to 57 the previous year—and 15 reports of violent injuries involving a knife or blade. Overall, the Met recorded 151 offences of violence against the person over the Sunday and Monday of Carnival: an 86 per cent increase on the 81 incidents that took place in 2010. Several of those violent incidents were serious and nearly resulted in loss of life: something that has not happened at Carnival in over a decade.
"One of the most obvious risks for Carnival is overcrowding. This is made all the more acute because of Carnival’s high attendance figures and its street-based location. There are a number of locations around the carnival footprint where significant crowd flow issues occur. Attention is given to the numbers of arrests made at Carnival. But it is the increase in violent incidents that is of grave concern.