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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Police fears over carnival
Police have admitted they have concerns over this weekend's Notting Hill carnival which is expected to be the last one of its kind.

Andy Trotter, the Metropolitan Police's deputy assistant commissioner, said the force was worried about the dangers of overcrowding.

Two people were murdered at last year's carnival and the police were heavily criticised for not taking a more active role in policing the event.

"Of course we have concerns," Mr Trotter said. "With thousands and thousands of people packed into those narrow streets and bearing in mind the events of last year.

Notting Hill Carnival
The parade route becomes severely congested
"We have made some changes from last year, we have got more police officers on the street, better CCTV and the Carnival Trust has recruited 7,000 stewards.

"It is going to be safer than last year.

Two people were murdered and several assaulted at the 2000 event.

Kicked to death

Abdul Bhatti, 28, died after being punched and kicked to the ground by a gang on the Bank Holiday Monday.

And delivery driver Greg Watson, 21, was stabbed to death in a separate attack at around 2200 BST on the same evening.

The men's deaths were the first at the London carnival since 1997.

Mr Trotter, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, said changes to be outlined in the Mayor's review of the event would make sure future carnivals would be much safer.

"We are looking forward to significant changes for next year so we can have a safer and happy carnival for years to come."

But he admitted there were still concerns.

'Common sense'

"It's enormously expensive to police, there are real fears about crush in those narrow streets.

"We have looked very closely at last year and everyone has worked hard all year long to try and make changes for this year.

"I think the addition of those stewards with the extra resources we have got in there and of course with the public using their common sense when they go along that we are going to have a safer carnival than last year."

We should be talking about the fun people can have rather than overcrowding

Andy Trotter
But Mr Trotter admitted he would not want his own children going to this year's carnival.

"I wouldn't want them to go to be frank because of the crush of the crowd," he said.

"This should be a wonderful festival, it should be a celebration of London's diversity and we should be talking about the fun people can have rather than overcrowding."

But he said he hoped the carnival would never lose its history and routes.

Mayoral support

"But nevertheless this is now an international event and it has got to be organised on that sort of scale."

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who is a supporter of the event, set up a Carnival Review Group to look at the future of the carnival.

"The success of the carnival demonstrates to the whole world that London is not just rich in history and heritage, but it is also a living, changing, modern city," he said.

Ken Livingstone
Mr Livingstone: Route needs changing
But Mr Livingstone believes it is necessary to change the carnival's route.

"The major change required remains a safer, non-circular route," said Mr Livingstone.

A route change along wider streets would be welcomed by the organisers of the carnival, the Notting Hill Carnival Trust (NHCT).

The carnival began in the 60s as a spontaneous celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture.

But it has grown to become the biggest street festival in Europe.

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