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Friday, 15 September, 2000, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Carnival venue questioned
Notting Hill Carnival
Most people were just out to enjoy themselves
The Notting Hill Carnival's location should be reviewed following public fears about "extreme and unacceptable levels of crime" at this year's event, according to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Crime figures at this year's street party rose by 27%.

Two men - Abdul Bhatti and Greg Watson - were murdered, 11 people were stabbed and robberies leapt from 13 last year to 132.

Sir John Stevens, in his report to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA), highlighted policing difficulties and questioned the venue's suitability "for such numbers, in terms of street geography and transport infrastructure".

Crime could take place within 10 metres of a group of officers, and they would be completely unaware of it

Commissioner's report

The report said discussions between police, the MPA, Greater London Authority (GLA) and London Mayor Ken Livingstone may lead to a formal carnival review.

It said there were "areas which seem particularly important to review, and which may yield changes to the event and the policing which give a good chance of improving public safety and reducing crime and disorder".

Despite having an average of 2,474 officers on duty, police struggled to control crime.

'Major changes'

"Crime could take place within 10 metres of a group of officers, and they would be completely unaware of it," Sir John's report admitted.

"This crowd density, together with noise levels and the capacity of radio and phone systems, also makes command and communication very challenging."

Sir John denied police had adopted a politically correct "softly, softly" policy at the carnival.

Sir John Stevens
Sir John Stevens: policing carnival was "very challenging"

The report said: "This is unequivocally not the case. With an 84% increase in arrests this is self-evidently not so. Political correctness played no part in decision-making."

Toby Harris, the chair of the MPA, welcomed the report and accepted there was no soft policy.

He praised the police's "comprehensive" planning, saying the carnival had simply become "a victim of its own great success".

The GLA has announced a Carnival Review Group will meet on Wednesday to consider the future of the street party.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who stressed "there will have to be major changes" to the event, has appointed a nine-member group to consider aspects of the carnival like location, safety and management.

GLA chairman Lee Jasper will report to the mayor when the review is complete, said a GLA spokesman.

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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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