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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 16:39 GMT
No action on town's 'Darkie Day'
Padstow Harbour
The event is thought to date back more than 100 years
Police say no-one will be prosecuted for taking part in an event in which locals black up their faces and dance through the streets of a Cornish town.

Police shot video of the most recent "Darkie Days" in Padstow and submitted a file to the CPS.

But taking into account changes made by participants - including the banning of afro wigs - the CPS concluded that no offences had been committed.

The festivities are thought to have gone on for more than a century.

Origins unknown

In 1998 Bernie Grant, the late black Labour MP for Tottenham, condemned the tradition as "offensive to black people all over the place".

Devon and Cornwall Police deployed 11 officers to monitor and shoot video footage of the Darkie Day celebrations on Boxing Day last year and New Year's Day.

The force said this was done following consultation with the East Cornwall Diversity Action Group, which includes the Cornwall Race Equality Council and North Cornwall District Council.

A police spokesman said on Thursday: "Looking ahead to the 2005-06 celebrations, the police would welcome working with organisers of the celebrations and partners in order to continue the positive steps taken already."

During the festivities, revellers raise money for charity by dancing around the town and singing songs traditionally associated with the plantations.

Its origin are unknown, but one theory, now widely discounted, is that it dates from an occasion when locals witnessed black people dancing and singing aboard a slave ship forced to seek shelter in the harbour.

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