As many as 4,000 extra police officers will be on the streets of London for the start of the annual two-day Notting Hill Carnival amid concern that gangs are planning a repeat of this month’s riots and disorder.
The carnival, which starts today and is estimated to attract 1 million people, was given the go-ahead after organizers changed the event times to finish in the early evening each day. The gathering normally requires a heavy police presence and previous events have been marred by violence.
Police have made more than 30 arrests as part of Operation Razorback, a special intelligence operation targeting “the small minority who we know want to ruin the event,” Commander Steve Rodhouse said in a statement on the Metropolitan Police Service website last week.
“We have intelligence to suggest that some gangs want to come to Carnival and create trouble for us,” Rodhouse said. “To those who think the rest of London is vulnerable, we are not just focusing on policing Notting Hill. Additional officers will be out on our streets across the city.”
The riots were the worst seen in Britain since the 1980s, with more than 3,000 crimes committed in London alone, including two murders.
Police spokesman Richard Jones said a total of 5,500 officers will be at the carnival today, an 11 percent increase from the year earlier and more than those on hand for the royal wedding. All staff leave has been canceled. Tomorrow, a national holiday, 6,500 will be on duty at the event, up 16 percent from last year. About 4,000 additional officers will be spread across London each day, as well as the regular numbers on duty.
“The police have been targeting potential troublemakers and anyone thinking of causing trouble should stay away,” London Mayor Boris Johnson said in a statement. “Let’s show the world we know how to throw a party and have a good time.”
The carnival was first held in 1964, spurred in part by racial tensions that immigrants from the Caribbean faced during the 1950s after arriving in the U.K., according to a history posted on the website of Notting Hill Carnival Ltd., the event’s organizer.
Some underground stations will be exit-only during the carnival or close temporarily, and bus routes may be diverted, Transport for London said on its website.