MePolice have been criticised for linking the Notting Hill Carnival to a series of raids officers launched across London on Tuesday to preemptively “disrupt” gang and drug crime at the event.
The Met made more than 26 arrests, predominantly for possession with intent to supply drugs, after raiding dozens of homes across south and west London with the aim of ensuring the “safety of the weekend”.
Many, including Grime artist Stormzy, questioned why and how police were linking the raids to the iconic street festival.
To make his point, Stormzy questioned police on how many drugs “did you lot seize in the run up to Glastonbury or we only doing tweets like this for black events?”
Another commenter wrote: “Hash tagging Notting Hill Carnival when there’s no correlation between the event and this incident. You’re reaching.”
Debate rages every year around violence and drug dealing at the Carnival with its success often being determined by arrest rate fluctuations, despite numbers being insignificant when weighted against attendance. Some two million people attend the festival which generates over £90 million in revenue for the capital.
Maurice McLeod compared disorder at the event to that at music festival Glastonbury in an article for the Guardian in September last year after Metropolitan Police Federation Ken Marsh called for a full-scale review of the Notting Hill Carnival after eight police officers were taken to hospital and 454 arrests were made.
Glastonbury is praised for its low crime rate, with just 75 arrests despite crowds of 135,000.
McLeod wrote: “This is just a tenth of the crowd that goes to carnival, and that’s without the protection of security scanners or an entry fee. If carnival’s crime rate was the same as Glasto’s, we’d expect 750 arrests.”
He continued: “Yet, as commentator Antoine Allen says, carnival was likened to the horror film The Purge. The European football championship and the Epsom Derby have experienced much more serious bouts of violence recently but neither are defined just by the crime that goes on at them.”
Tuesday’s police crackdown comes off the back of an operation that was launched on August 11 that has led to more than 290 arrests for a range of offences. Eighteen firearms and 190 have so far been recovered.
Police on Tuesday raided eight addresses in Lewisham, south-east London and arrested eight people in what was described as a planned, intelligence-led operation.
A number of raids were also carried out in Kensington and Chelsea, the borough where the carnival takes place every August bank holiday weekend.
Officers searched 21 homes in Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster, and Wandsworth, arresting 18 people.
If some of those arrested are then bailed, they will be forbidden from attending the carnival, Scotland Yard said.
Officers known as “super recognisers” will be in the area and monitoring CCTV to help spot those banned from the parade.
The crackdown - against knife crime, drugs and child exploitation - was carried out by more than 100 officers from the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police and the British Transport Police.
Chief Superintendent Robyn Williams, the Met’s spokesman for Notting Hill Carnival, said: “Our officers have been proactive and focused on tackling serious violence and knife crime across London.
“Today’s operation is aimed at ensuring that those who intend to cause trouble at Carnival are prohibited from doing so.
“We are committed to ensuring that Carnival remains a safe, vibrant and enjoyable event; troublemakers are not welcome.
“We will be uncompromising in our operations to keep our communities safe and secure. People can expect to see operational activity right up until, and throughout the bank holiday weekend.”
A further three men and two women were arrested at a terraced house in south-east London, while a young child was taken by police to stay with her grandparents.
In the property, uncut crack cocaine with an estimated street value of £60,000 was discovered, along with multiple bags of powder thought to be heroin.