London’s police force will deploy more than 4,000 extra officers on the streets of the capital on the two days of the Notting Hill Carnival amid concern that gangs are planning a repeat of this month’s riots and disorder.
Police have made at least 35 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.
The carnival, which is estimated to attract 1 million people, was only given the go-ahead to proceed after organizers changed the event times to finish in the early evening each day. The festival normally requires a heavy police presence and previous events have been marred by violence.
This month’s riots were the worst seen in Britain since the 1980s, with more than 3,000 crimes committed in London alone, including two murders.
“We have intelligence to suggest that some gangs want to come to Carnival and create trouble for us,” Rodhouse said in the statement. “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.”
Richard Jones, a spokesman for the police, said the force was continuing to monitor intelligence sources. A total of 5,500 officers will be at the carnival on Aug. 28, an 11 percent increase from the year earlier and more than those on hand for the royal wedding, Jones said. All staff leave has been canceled. On Aug. 29, 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 today in a statement. “Let’s show the world we know how to throw a party and have a good time.”
Rioters caused an estimated $326 million of damage this month as arson and looting spread from the suburb of Tottenham after a local man, Mark Duggan, was shot and killed by police who stopped his car intending to make an arrest. Violence and looting spread across other cities in the U.K., including Birmingham and Manchester.
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. Mayor Johnson has given the group 190,000 pounds, 8.6 percent more than a year ago, to increase the number of stewards by more than 100 each day, according to spokesman Ben McKnight.
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.
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