Carnival
Sean Bryson
But when two people were murdered, with many more victims of crime, serious questions were raised about the carnival's future. Many sections of the community had already been warning changes were necessary. Crime and overcrowding had been issues for a number of years. FREE Advertising Online
Free Advertising Online

Street Parties 2000 / 2001 - MURDERS !

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/newsid_1501000/1501893.stm

Keeping the carnival spirit alive

By BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas

Last minute adjustments to floats and costumes are under way ahead of this weekend's 37th Notting Hill Carnival - the biggest street party in Europe. But behind the excitement, many people inside and outside Notting Hill's west London community harbour concerns about the outcome of the two-day event. Last year's carnival was billed as the biggest and best yet, set to attract more than two million revellers.

But when two people were murdered, with many more victims of crime, serious questions were raised about the carnival's future. Many sections of the community had already been warning changes were necessary. Crime and overcrowding had been issues for a number of years. The police, residents and local government came together to discuss issues from the carnival's route to stewarding. Some were resolved, others still hang in the balance. But the overriding opinion was that the Notting Hill Carnival - with its spirit of celebration of, not just Afro-Caribbean culture, but life in general - was worth saving. London Mayor Ken Livingstone set up a Carnival Review Group. Mr Livingstone is a firm supporter of the carnival. "Not only does it give London the chance to enjoy a free party - it is a significant contribution to Britain's international image," he said. "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."

Mr Livingstone says many review group recommendations, including more police, trained stewards and improved transport arrangements, have been acted on. But, the main outstanding issue facing the carnival is still its route. "The major change required remains a safer, non-circular route," said Mr Livingstone in his most recent public statement last week. "We are fully committed to ensuring that this is implemented for next year's carnival." The Metropolitan Police this week said the carnival had got too big for Notting Hill.

"Large numbers of people in narrow streets with vehicles moving through them is not only a potentially dangerous environment but also yields numerous opportunities for crime," said a police spokesman. A route change along wider streets would be welcomed by the organisers of the carnival, the Notting Hill Carnival Trust (NHCT). However, they would prefer it to remain circular to help those in the procession back to their bases. But, unsurprisingly, they agree the event should stay. "It's hugely important and is at the heart of Afro-Caribbean culture in the UK. It brings together the best representatives of multi-culturalism. "But it is also about enjoying yourself and having a great time," says NHCT spokeswoman Stephanie Harwood.

Those taking part in the procession - from dancers to Soca steel bands - must prove to the NHCT committee that they are contributing to the process of keeping Afro-Caribbean arts and culture alive. Months of preparation go into producing the specially designed floats and costumes. Mike Best, Editor-in-Chief of The Voice, Britain's leading black newspaper, stresses that violence is "alien" to the carnival spirit. "The carnival has no place for trouble-makers and you can't blame it for deaths. Such behaviour is alien to Afro-Caribbean culture," he says. However, many local residents have also complained for years about the general disruption the carnival can bring. "Lots of people go away for the weekend because they can't lead a normal life," says Sarah Wood of local residents' magazine The Hill.

"Our readers write and send photos to complain about the piles of rubbish and the stench left behind." Local businesses are also affected. Many shut up shop completely for the weekend for fear of damage to their premises. Ironically, many of the issues facing the carnival are due to its own success. What began in the 60s as a spontaneous celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture has grown beyond recognition. While no-one agrees on specifics, all concede that future carnivals must handle overcrowding differently. Future years could see part of the parade take place in an enclosed open area, such as Hyde Park - one of Mr Livingstone's suggestions. President of the Foundation of European Carnival Cities, Henry van der Kroon, agrees that changes need to be made. But he urges that Notting Hill's free spirit be preserved. "The Notting Hill Carnival is still a spontaneous event open to everyone. "In Rio, by contrast, the carnival has become a rich commercial event. It excludes the poorer people for whom it was first intended. "In Notting Hill everyone can still take part, create a fantasy - and follow their dreams."

http://www.streetparties.com/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/newsid_1511000/1511311.stm

Police defend carnival security

The heavy police presence at London's Notting Hill Carnival has been defended by Scotland Yard as the main day's parade of Afro-Caribbean floats, music and festivities gets under way. Officers said the extra security measures have already paid off by keeping trouble to a minimum on Sunday, the festival's opening day so far there have been about 30 arrests. A total of 10,000 police officers and 80 extra CCTV cameras have been put on the circular route for the two-day event, which is expected to attract two million people. Bad weather and a heavy police presence was thought to be behind Sunday's lower than expected crime figures, which included offences involving drugs, robbery, theft and being drunk and disorderly.

Only 250,000 people turned up for the festivities on Sunday, but up to 1.5 million are expected on Monday. The cost of policing Europe's biggest street party shot to a record 4m this year following the violence which marred last year's event. Scotland Yard's Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Andy Trotter, said the huge police presence was "justified in the sense that we all need to work together to make sure that no one gets hurt in today's event through not having sufficient resources on duty". Mr Trotter said there were a number of intelligence-led arrests in the days leading up to the carnival and those on bail were warned against going to the procession area. This year, two police officers required hospital treatment for minor injuries, while three others were treated at the scene.

A stabbing incident in the Notting Hill area on Sunday was unrelated to the carnival, according to Scotland Yard. The injured man, in his 20s, was taken to a north London hospital, but his injuries were not thought to be life threatening. As the festival began on Sunday afternoon, several of the 600 stewards were asked to shelter costumed children from the rain. But although the showers deterred some of the crowds, many stayed to party through the rain, wearing black bin-bags to keep them dry. They were entertained by steel bands, reggae floats and flamboyant costumes were on show, while revellers danced to music from sound systems around the narrow streets of the route. During last year's carnival two people were murdered and several assaulted in a string of attacks, leading for calls for the festival to be radically scaled down or even abandoned.

http://www.streetparties.com/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/newsid_1512000/1512230.stm

Sunshine lifts carnival spirits

Sunshine has lifted spirits and attendance figures for the second day of London's Notting Hill Carnival. An estimated million excited festival-goers lined the streets for parades, floats and music at what was described by organisers as the most "relaxed" in years. Scotland Yard earlier defended the heavy police presence which they say has helped keep trouble to a minimum. The carnival's organisers said they were happy with the way the carnival progressed on Monday.

"It feels like everyone is pulling together to get behind the carnival and it really seems everyone has come with the right attitude and it feels more relaxed than it has done in previous years," said Steph Harwood, a spokeswoman for the event's organisers. A total of 10,000 police officers and 80 extra CCTV cameras have been put on the circular route for the two-day event, which was expected to attract two million people. Bad weather and a heavy police presence was thought to be behind Sunday's lower than expected crime figures, which included offences involving drugs, robbery, theft and being drunk and disorderly. Scotland Yard said the venture so far has been a success, though any likely trouble would take place later into the evening. The cost of policing Europe's biggest street party shot to a record 4m this year following the violence which marred last year's event.

Twenty-seven people were arrested on the first day of the carnival and eight police offers needed treatment for minor injuries. Ninety-three members of the public were treated for minor injuries. Some revellers felt that the massive police presence should be put to one side to focus on the carnival itself. One woman, who has been coming to the carnival since she was five and was now bringing her teenage daughter, said it was the tradition and atmosphere that brought millions from far and wide. Many officers also put their jobs aside for a while to join in with the festivities, dancing with the floats and decorating their uniforms. Scotland Yard's Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Andy Trotter, said the huge police presence was "justified in the sense that we all need to work together to make sure that no one gets hurt in today's event through not having sufficient resources on duty".

http://www.streetparties.com/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_1512000/1512710.stm

Carnival policing costs 'too high'

The man in charge of policing this year's Notting Hill carnival has criticised the amount of money spent on security. The cost of policing Europe's biggest street party shot to a record 4m this year following the violence that marred last year's event in which two people were murdered and 90 stabbed. A total of 10,000 police officers - 1,500 more than last year - and 80 extra CCTV cameras were put on the circular route for the two-day festival. But Scotland Yard's Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Andy Trotter, said: "Carnival should not cost 4m in policing.

"It has got to be safe and fun - but need not cost this much money." Mr Trotter suggested stewards - 700 of whom were used this year - could take over the roles of some of the police. But he also called for the carnival procession to be moved from its present route. "I would wish for a non-circular route that has an open space at each end," Mr Trotter said. "I'm not saying where it should go - but it is up to us to offer guidance. "Notting Hill is the home of carnival, and I think that should remain. "What needs to change is the circular route through those narrow streets, which does bring about unacceptable levels of crushing."

The 37th annual carnival drew to a close in the early hours of Tuesday, with fewer than 60 arrests - most of them for minor offences. Around 1.25 million people lined the streets at what was described by organisers as the most "relaxed" carnival in years. There were 98 minor injuries among revellers and a further 10 were taken to hospital with similar injuries. Three police officers also required hospital treatment for minor injuries while six others were treated at the scene. Scotland Yard earlier defended the heavy police presence which they said had helped keep trouble to a minimum. A spokeswoman said things had been "much quieter than last year". But some revellers felt that the massive police presence should be put to one side to focus on the carnival itself. One woman, who has been coming to the carnival since she was five and was now bringing her teenage daughter, said it was the tradition and atmosphere that brought millions from far and wide. Many officers also put their jobs aside for a while to join in with the festivities, dancing with the floats and decorating their uniforms.

http://www.streetparties.com/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_967000/967787.stm

Police investigating the fatal stabbing of a 21-year-old man at the Notting Hill Carnival have released video footage of the murder.

In what police call a "highly unusual move", the film has been shown on BBC One's Crimewatch UK in a fresh bid to catch Greg Watson's killers. The distressing scenes, which include the fatal blow, have been shown with the agreement of Mr Watson's family. Scotland Yard say the footage caught on a nearby CCTV camera shows the vicious and unprovoked nature of the attack. They hope it will touch the conscience of anyone with information who has not yet come forward.

Detective Chief Inspector Guy Ferguson, who is leading the investigation, said: "I have not taken the decision to release this CCTV footage lightly and sincerely hope that the horrific nature of this attack will prompt people to come forward, particularly those who may have been reluctant to help the police.

"Greg's family have expressed their full confidence in this investigation and believe that the identity of Greg's killer is being concealed."

Mr Watson, father of a month-old baby girl called Amber, was murdered as he made his way home to Northolt from the Carnival on Bank Holiday Monday 28 August. He was with a group of younger relatives and friends when, at about 2200 BST, a gang of youths tried to accost his young female cousin.

As others in the group intervened Mr Watson attempted to calm the situation - but was then stabbed. His attacker fled in the direction of Ladbroke Grove as police, who saw the incident unfold on CCTV, arrived on the scene. Paramedics treated Mr Watson but he died from his injuries soon afterwards at St Mary's Hospital. A 10,000 reward has been offered by police for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the killer.

Mr Watson's death came hours after the murder of 28-year-old Asian graduate Abdul Bhatti, who was set on by a group of youths in what police believe was a racially motivated attack.

The murders - alongside 11 stabbings and 132 robberies - contributed to a 27% rise in crime at this year's carnival.

A group of women who police want to contact as potential witnesses. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said the "extreme and unacceptable levels of crime" meant a review of the event's location was now necessary.

Although the CCTV images of the attack on Mr Watson are not good quality, DCI Ferguson said he was confident people would be able to recognise the knifeman and his friend.

"We also know that this pair were pestering young women at carnival prior to this attack and its very likely that these women still have no idea that they could give us vital information."

Police are also appealing for anyone on or following a float making its way up Kensal Road at the time of the attack to come forward.

The suspect is black, around 5'8" to 5'10", in his late teens to early 20s and of muscular build. He has short hair which was shaved at the sides and longer on top and was wearing a black hooded top and dark trousers.

The suspect's friend who initially accosted Mr Watson's group is black but lighter skinned, of similar age and slimmer. He was wearing a black vest, and a green shirt which he wore open.

DCI Ferguson continued: "I'm confident that there are people out there who know the identify of Greg's killer and I ask them to search their consciences and come forward with that information, for the sake of Greg's family."

Anyone with information is asked to call the Westminster incident room on 020 7321 7228 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

http://www.streetparties.com/

Articles


Free Speech & Anti Political Correctness Site Map