Notting Hill Carnival has once again been hailed a success. The Sunday, apparently 'family day', saw 73 arrests and a couple of stabbings. The main event on the Monday saw around 250 arrests, two stabbings and the recovery of a firearm. Thousands of police officers were deployed at public expense leaving local areas with below minimum numbers. The main carnival area was patrolled by riot trained officers. Here is the experience of one:
"We were ground assigned at 2pm. At 6pm we changed into our riot gear, but kept our flat caps on. We carried our riot helmets (called Nato helmets) but were not allowed to put them on without the authority of senior officers. We had heard on our radios that there had been disturbances at a nearby sector, with groups of 60-70 youths steaming through the crowds and throwing bottles at police. A woman had been stabbed near Rampage. Rampage is a sound system which attracts gangs from across London who seek to control the territory there. The London Ambulance Service refused to go there due to the high risk of injury to their staff.
We ended up near the carnival route. Around 7pm, we noticed a large group of 40-50 surrounding our serial. Seconds later, one of them waved a bandanna in the air, and we were attacked with bottles. We put on our Nato helmets and drew batons as the glass rained down on us. We were supported by another serial and managed to push the group back. My main memory is of a senior officer turning up and screaming at us to take our Nato helmets off. That's the real face of carnival."
This event costs millions of pounds. The vast majority of people that go there go for the right reasons, however it attracts every tin-pot gangster in London who are intent on attacking the police. The police are expected to take this, and risk injury in the name of public relations. In times of financial hardship, there can no longer be a justification for such a huge drain on public resources.