Even before the disturbances around London earlier this month, the police readied themselves for the Notting Hill Carnival by targeting known troublemakers and gathering intelligence. Known as Operation Razorback, this led to early morning raids and 40 arrests this week.
After the riots, some felt that the Carnival should be cancelled but the organisers were given the go-ahead from the authorities with the proviso that the parade of floats would finish by 6.30pm, and the static sound systems would be turned off by 7pm. Police will also be out in large numbers this weekend: 16,000 officers will be on duty on Sunday and Monday across the capital with 5,500 attending today's children's carnival and 6,500 at the main event tomorrow.
However, modern-day Cassandra John Tully, vice-chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, has cast doubts on whether the curfew can be achieved. Calling it "pie in the sky", he went on to say
We need direction – we being the rank-and-file officers that I represent – about when we are given an instruction from senior officers to clear the street what they actually mean by that? We have no definition. If we go in heavy handed and a few people get cuts and bruises or injured, then my members are up in court on an assault charge. When we are told to clear the streets, we should get the backing of not just our managers but the politicians as well.
I don't think it's achievable because of the volume of people who are going to be there and who don't want to go home. If they want to carry on, there is the potential for problems.
Just look at Edmonton two nights ago when a police van was petrol-bombed for no reason. That's an indication of how tense the streets of London are. In the current climate, there is obviously a worry that there could be a potential flashpoint.
Commander Steve Rodhouse, the Met's spokesman for the carnival's policing, is apparently unperturbed by Tully's opinions, saying: "The carnival ends at 7pm and that is certainly our intention."
Notting Hill Carnival: there's an app for that.