Notting Hill Carnival reaches colourful climax

Party vibes are set to rumble through the streets of London as this year’s Notting Hill Carnival reaches its climax.

It is showtime for the colourfully costumed mass bands who will wind their way along the adult parade route through west London in a celebration of Caribbean culture and history.

Sound systems, playing everything from rare groove to house and samba, plus live stages ensure there is dancing in the streets.

On Sunday evening the Metropolitan Police said the mood at the carnival had been “good-natured throughout the day” as they announced that a Section 60 order, providing officers with additional search powers, would be imposed overnight until 2am.

Notting Hill Carnival 2023
Crowds during the Children’s Day Parade (Yui Mok/PA)

The force described it as a “precautionary step” taken after talks with community representatives “in order to locate weapons so that we can prevent any violence taking place and keep carnival-goers safe”.

It followed “information” that some people had travelled to the area carrying knives and by Sunday at 6.20pm there had been 24 arrests for offences including drunk and disorderly, drugs possession, sexual assault and assault on an emergency worker.

In a later update released just before midnight, the Met said 85 people had been arrested, including 11 for sexual assault and 10 for assault on a police officer.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan, who is leading the policing operation for the carnival, said in a statement: “The atmosphere was largely good natured and positive with the overwhelming majority of people having an enjoyable and safe experience.

“Regrettably, there will always be some who use the opportunity to commit offences. Our officers will respond decisively where this takes place which is evident from the 85 arrests made thus far, a figure broadly consistent with what we would expect at this stage of a Carnival weekend.

“Carnival should be a safe environment for all and I am saddened that we have seen 11 arrests for sexual assault.”

He continued: “Tackling violence against women and girls is a priority for the Met and it has been a focus of our event planning. We have officers out among the crowds during the event to identify offenders.

“We are once again working closely with Safer Spaces, an organisation that operates at events across the UK, to provide areas where women and girls can go to seek advice from trained professionals and where appropriate, police officers. 654 people made use of this service during the day on Sunday which demonstrates why it is such an important part of the wider event plan.”

Notting Hill Carnival 2023
Revellers get covered in paint powder (Yui Mok/PA)

Mr Adelekan said he was “disappointed that 10 of the arrests are for assaults on officers who are working diligently to keep everyone safe”.

He added: “It is unacceptable that they should be the target of abuse or assaults and we will provide those affected with the necessary support.

“Our policing operation continues as we move into Bank Holiday Monday and we will once again have officers deployed across the local area throughout what we expect to be a busy day with significant numbers of people attending.

“I am grateful to them and to all involved in the event for their continued hard work and dedication.”

There were bright smiles, detailed colourful costumes and plenty of dancing as the Children’s Day Parade brought cheer to the carnival on Sunday.

It is expected that more than two million people will have taken to the streets of west London over the bank holiday weekend as the carnival, Europe’s biggest street party, celebrates two landmark anniversaries.

The introduction of sound systems and mas bands 50 years ago transformed it into a large-scale event and the docking of the Empire Windrush 75 years ago heralded mass immigration from the Caribbean.