25/08/2017 16:33 BST

Stormzy's Notting Hill Carnival Comments Countered By Police Chief

'I cannot remember a single murder at Glastonbury.'

Police have hit back at Stormzy for criticising them over linking Notting Hill Carnival to a series of raids this week, saying that last year four people were almost killed at the Bank holiday event.

The Grime artist on Wednesday questioned why police were trumpeting the results of a series of busts across south and west London - including a heroin seizure in Catford - in the interests of ensuring the “safety of the weekend”.

Twenty six people were arrested - the majority for drug offences.  

Scotland Yard defended the raids on Friday pointing out that the carnival was much more dangerous than Glastonbury, while reiterating their commitment to ensuring the event runs smoothly. 

“What do the public expect of us? Last year we had 70 to 80 stabbings, four of them people who nearly lost their lives in attempted murders,” Commander Dave Musker told the Evening Standard.

“My officers saved the lives of those people but I cannot remember a single murder at Glastonbury.”

He added that the point had been “to get people who would normally come to carnival to cause problems off the street before the event”.

PA Wire/PA Images
Police have hit back at criticism for linking a series of raids this week to the Notting Hill Carnival; 26 people were arrested, mainly for drugs, after busts across south and west London

Musker, who is in charge of policing the event, said officers would be “uncompromising” in ensuring the safety and security of the public and “if that means putting a significant effort into dealing with criminality before carnival I am unapologetic about that and will continue to do it”.

He said police will “arrest anyone, anywhere” if they have intelligence to suggest they are involved in crime and may attend the carnival to “cause trouble”.

Musker also defended police’s use of facial recognition technology to scan the faces of revellers to identify troublemakers.

Human rights group Liberty believes the technology has “no place” at the carnival and has questioned the legality of using it as there is, “no basis in law for facial recognition, no transparency around its use”.

Police have made 656 arrests in the three weeks before the carnival and have recovered 27 firearms and seized 400 offensive weapons and knives.

Reporting on the carnival often focusses on the amount of crime at the event despite numbers being insignificant when weighted against attendance. Arrest rates at Glastonbury are significantly higher.

Two million people attend the carnival and last year 454 arrests were made. Seventy five people were arrested at Glastonbury in 2016 which draws crowds of around 135,000. 

Musker also revealed that special measures are being taken to protect the carnival from terrorism and acid attacks, including the use of steel barriers and vehicles being banned during the daytime. 

Neil Hall / Reuters
Police arrested 450 people at the carnival last year

There was no specific counter-terrorism intelligence to suggest an attack was likely, Musker said, but security plans had been “thoroughly reviewed” after the Barcelona attack, in which 15 people died in a series of attacks, including 13 killed after being hit by a van.

Officers will be stationed around the perimeter of the carnival zone, carrying out checks for weapons and acid.

There will also be a protective ring of officers around Grenfell Tower and the Lancaster West estate to protect the space from carnival-goers and ensure a “respectful” two days.

Last year more than 450 people were arrested over the two days of festivities and 981 offences - for drugs, theft, robbery and assault - were recorded.