The Notting Hill Carnival (or will it be riot?)

The Notting Hill carnival is the biggest street festival in Europe and the second biggest in the world with up to 2 million people taking part. It has taken place annually since 1964 and takes place in areas of London where social deprivation and gentrification sit side by side. It is famous for its crime with murders and shootings as well as large scale riots. There are very high levels of muggings and other crimes against the person at, and in the vicinity of, the event. It is not a place to go wearing a Rolex watch.

This year the carnival takes place very shortly after the police lost control of many areas of London in widespread rioting and looting causing £200 million of damage, this has been subsequently used by them as good reason to crack down hard on organised youth gangs and other street criminals, many of whom are now detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure. The authorities must now be praying for rain to dampen down the event this weekend.

There are three possible scenarios here:

1) The police, stung by the criticism of their former ineptitude get themselves properly organised and bus in big reinforcements from other forces. They adopt a zero tolerance policy and re-establish not only control of the streets but their reputation for keeping London relatively safe. With such a high proportion of the regular street criminals locked up the job is made one whole lot easier. When problems do occur the police use it as good reason to lock up even more street criminals.

2) The gangs and street criminals, though depleted in numbers, see the carnival as a good venue for the next phase in their war against society, get themselves organised on the social media, run amok and take on the police. Very many people who are not criminals but who feel in some way disenfranchised and who see the police as the enemy join in. Maybe firearms are used. We have a massive street battle. Large areas are laid waste. Britain veers sharply to the political right.

3) British common sense prevails and the carnival proceeds as normal with a little less crime because of the larger police presence and the absence of so many of the recidivist, sociopathic, criminal underclass.

My betting is that there will be some trouble as people react badly to strict policing. But with both sides “tooled up” let’s hope there isn’t contagion in the crowd. It could make the riots earlier this month look like a tea party.

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