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Alexis Condon, carnival crime victim
"It was a completely unprovoked attack"
 real 28k

Thursday, 31 August, 2000, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Carnival stabbing incidents rise
Notting Hill Carnival
Arrests were up significantly at this year's carnival
A man who ran into a scuffle with a group of youths at the Notting Hill Carnival returned home to discover a 3cm knife wound in his chest.

BBC producer Alexis Condon was returning from the carnival late on Monday night with a friend when they were set upon by the youths, who punched and kicked them. But they were not aware that weapons had been drawn.

A separate stabbing incident at the carnival on Monday claimed the life of 21-year-old father Greg Watson, while a 28-year-old salesman Abdul Bhatti died in hospital on Tuesday from injuries sustained after being attacked at the event.


We will soon arrive at the situation where there are people murdered at the carnival every year

Glen Smythe, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation
Official figures released by Scotland Yard indicate they are investigating 10 assaults involving a sharp instrument, but there have been reports that carnival crime figures have been "massaged" for political purposes.

BBC Newsroom South East had received police figures that showed they were actually investigating 19 stabbings.

The discrepancy arises because Scotland Yard only counts incidents within the carnival area, while crimes on the fringes are contained in normal figures.

'Unprovoked attack'

Mr Condon, a former BBC News Online journalist told the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme that he was stunned to find that he had become one of those crime statistics.

"We were there late at night on the Monday watching the rest of the carnival go by.

Greg Watson with his baby daughter and girlfriend
Greg Watson had just become a father
"A group of youths set on us for no particular reason punching and kicking at us. I took a couple of blows to the head and chest.

"It wasn't until I got home later that I discovered there was a wound in my chest."

Mr Condon, who had been protected from a more serious injury by the fact the knife entered his breast bone, said it was a completely unprovoked attack.

He added that there were no police in the area at the time.

"Most had gathered at the main junctions moving traffic around, and were not really mingling with the crowds," he said.

Rising crime rate

Police said that while the number of people attending the two-day event was lower than previous years, at about 1.5 million, the number of crimes had risen by 27%.

But chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Glen Smythe, said that the real crime figures are likely to be higher still.

A rainbow coloured costume
The majority of people were there to enjoy the spectacle
"The level of crime reported is far below that which really happens and the whole process is underplayed for political reasons," he told the Today programme.

He added that each year at the carnival there was "a significant criminal minority" who were there to exploit the situation.

"We will soon arrive at the situation where there are people murdered at the carnival every year.

"Too many people are seriously hurt year on year. The recent record is pretty appalling," he said.

'Major policing event'

In response, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Terry Garfield said that police were looking at ways of making the carnival a safer place to visit.

Many councillors and local residents in the area of west London where the carnival is held say it is now too small a venue for the up to two million visitors it attracts each year.

Mr Garfield said that this year 129 arrests were made for offences such as robbery, assaults and drug-related incidents.

He confirmed that crimes committed on the outskirts of the carnival were not included in the overall total and there was also a level of unreported crime.

"For us, the carnival is a major policing event. We make every effort to encourage people to report crime because we want to get a truer picture."

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See also:

27 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Revellers flock to carnival
25 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Carnival: The people's party
27 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Carnival time for Notting Hill
31 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Notting Hill - in pictures
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