Notting Hill carnival violence is ‘unsustainable’, says Met Police union boss as he calls for event to be moved and reveals revellers urinated on officers from upper floor windows and shocking photos of machete-wielding men emerged
A Met Police union boss has said the level of violence at Notting Hill carnival has become ‘unacceptable and unsustainable’, as one officer was sexually assaulted and six others were reportedly bitten by revellers.
The Metropolitan Police said it made 308 arrests across Sunday and Monday and more than 50 officers were assaulted by being kicked, punched, spat on, bitten, head-butted and even urinated on from upper floor windows.
‘You can’t have it that every single year come Tuesday morning we’re contemplating these types of injuries, this numbers of injuries and sexual assaults and stabbings. It really is awful,’ Rick Prior, vice chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, told The Daily Telegraph.
Shocking footage from the bank holiday weekend even shows revellers wielding machetes in the street in front of crowds of people.
Meanwhile two men are in a critical condition after being stabbed and police say eight people were stabbed on Monday in just a matter of hours.
Mr Prior accepted crimes inevitably happen at celebrations like this but said that the layout and sheer number of people attending creates ‘nefarious intent’.
One image shows a young man appearing to approach a group of men while waving a large weapon in the air, as many watch on in shock.
Both Mr Prior and the Conservative Party’s London mayoral candidate Susan Hall have called for the carnival to be moved elsewhere.
Mr Prior said he understood the significance of the carnival being held in Notting Hill but said a move should be considered.
Ken Marsh, chairman of the federation which represents rank-and-file officers, said there are a small number of individuals who attend the festival to harm and cause ‘disarray’.
‘How is it that the police, every August bank holiday weekend, rock up and have dozens assaulted? Tell me anywhere in the world where that happens?
‘Unfortunately we have a mayor [Sadiq Khan] who tells everyone it [the carnival] is amazing, is the footprint of London and everyone needs to accept it, full stop,’ he told The Times.
The Metropolitan Police Federation says it is aware of 75 incidents of officers being attacked in total, branding the incidents ‘absolutely disgusting’.
‘No wonder our members dread policing this event,’ a tweet from the federation said.
The photographer who captured the man holding a machete said he found himself ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’ and claimed the ‘joyful atmosphere turned unexpectedly as an altercation broke out nearby, between two gangs with knives and a machete’.
He said the most shocking part was that the altercation, which he said lasted about ten seconds, seemed ‘bog standard’ to the people around him.
‘I knew something was kicking off. My immediate thought was, “Keep taking pictures,” and then I saw a young guy running around with a machete,’ he said.
Video footage also emerged today of a gang of youths, one holding a suspected machete, running down a west London street dressed in black and wearing balaclavas amid a violent end to the annual festival.
Footage shows how police on horseback tried to chase after the group as they ran away, with a large crowd watching on. Some members in the group turn their heads to check behind them as they flee.
People commenting on the video have said ‘that’s why I don’t go on Monday’, which is known as adults’ day.
Detectives had praised the ‘positive’ and ‘good natured’ atmosphere on Sunday, but officers were forced into action after the carnival descended into violence on bank holiday Monday.
Police said that a 29-year-old man was in a critical condition after he was stabbed just off Harrow Road shortly after 9pm, but is now in a ‘serious but stable’ condition.
A 19-year-old man was stabbed in Ladbroke Grove shortly before 8pm and also remains in a serious but stable condition in hospital.
Meanwhile, six other men aged 18, 19, 20, 25, 28 and 40 were stabbed in separate incidents. They sustained non life-threatening injuries.
The Met said it made a total of 308 arrests across the two days. On Sunday, there were 110 arrests for offences including possession of offensive weapons, assaults including on police officers, possession of drugs and sexual offences.
One man sustained a non life-changing slash wound but turned down help from the emergency services.
Officers also acted quickly to intercept a group who was in the possession of a firearm. They seized the weapon and arrested a man.
On Monday there were a further 198 arrests for a similar range of offences.
Notting Hill Carnival Ltd, which organises the two-day street party, has distanced itself from Monday’s violent scenes, saying those responsible ‘have nothing to do with Notting Hill Carnival or its values’.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the firm said: ‘Notting Hill Carnival has once again been a spectacular weekend of colour and sound, the culmination of a year’s long work, that results in this hugely important and unique cultural event.
‘Carnival is about these communities and people, who dedicate so much time, love, incredible creativity and effort to the parade, sound systems, music, food, costumes and much more that makes up the event.
‘We deplore all acts of violence, these people have nothing to do with Notting Hill Carnival and its values.
‘Tragically, these incidents are all too common in our society. Last year the Office for National Statistics shows that 12,786 knife offences were carried out in the capital over the 12 months to the end of March, this sadly affects us as much as any community.
‘We will continue to work hard with our partners to protect Notting Hill Carnival and the people who make it so special.’
A spokesman for London mayor Sadiq Khan said the event was ‘born out of the Caribbean community in north Kensington and Notting Hill’ and that this should ‘remain its home’.
But Susan Hall, the Tory candidate for London mayor, told LBC: ‘It’s very upsetting and I’m afraid we have this every single year. It’s an incredible thing, the Notting Hill Carnival. I would just say move it. Move it to where it can be policed much better than where it is now.
‘Because it’s so good and so successful, very, very many people go there, so it’s very, very difficult to police, so I’d be urging people to look at somewhere else it could go.’
Asked where it should be moved to, she added: ‘Perhaps to a park. And let the organisers look and see where they would like it to be moved to.
‘Of course, it is up to everybody else, it’s not up to me at this specific point. I just comment that every year – all the accidents, all the stabbings, all the various things that go on that we would not want.
‘And I talk to police officers daily, and they don’t want to be there, quite frankly, because they know that they are in danger.’
The violence came at the end of two days of steel drums, barbecues and flamboyant headdresses, which drew to a close on Monday night.
Hundreds of thousands of partygoers massed in Kensington for a sunny ‘carnival climax’ yesterday, which saw the adults’ parade kick off in the morning before a feast of music took over the streets.
Council teams are now descending on west London to sweep up and tidy mounds of rubbish after the two million revellers took part in this year’s carnival.
Met Police deputy assistant commissioner Ade Adelekan, who oversaw the policing operation, said: ‘It is regrettable that for a second year in a row, Monday night at carnival has been marred by serious violence.
‘Nobody disputes the significance of carnival on London’s cultural calendar and the overwhelming majority of those who came will have had a positive experience. However, we cannot overlook the stabbings, sexual assaults and attacks on police officers that we have seen.
‘As we do following any major operation, we will be reviewing the events of the past two days and giving thorough consideration to what may need to change in future years.
‘It is important to recognise the positives that we can take away from the event. I am pleased that by working in close partnership with the event organisers and the stewarding teams, we were able to closely monitor crowd density and intervene in an effective way to prevent any incidents of crushing at peak times.
‘I would like to thank all the officers who have worked so hard over the weekend to keep people safe.
‘Carnival is a challenging policing environment. Officers were asked to be vigilant and alert but to be approachable, respectful and sensitive at the same time. They did all of that and more and they deserve our recognition and our thanks.’