More arrests at Euro final at Wembley than Notting Hill Carnival, says Sadiq Khan

Police at the Notting Hill Carnival (PA Wire)
Police at the Notting Hill Carnival (PA Wire)

Notting Hill Carnival is as safe as Glastonbury or the Reading festival and safer than England football matches at Wembley stadium, Sadiq Khan has claimed.

The mayor came to the defence of the long-standing annual Caribbean cultural and heritage festival, held over the August bank holiday weekend, which was again marred by scenes of violence, multiple arrests and attacks on police officers.

Mr Khan, speaking at Mayor’s question time at City Hall on Thursday, said: “More than two million people attended the carnival this year. Per capita, per 10,000 people who attended the carnival, there are as many arrests at the carnival as there are, for example, at Reading festival, at Glastonbury.

“There were more arrests per capita at the Euro [2020] finals at Wembley. But nobody is suggesting we ban England from playing at Wembley.

“Why should we ban those people who organise a carnival from having a carnival in Notting Hill?”

Violence at the end of this year’s carnival resulted in 75 police officers being assaulted and two people ending up in hospital, one in a critical condition.

In scenes that were broadcast around the world, one man was seen brandishing a “zombie knife” yards from terrified carnival-goers.

In other scenes, a hooded and masked thug was pictured charging across a street wielding a foot-long machete.

A report into the violence at the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy, in July 2021, described anarchic scenes as ticketless thugs ran amok that were a “national shame” and found that deaths were only narrowly averted.

Last year, the Met Police Federation also called for the Carnival route to be changed, saying they did not have the resources to police it effectively.

At 2022’s carnival, one person was fatally stabbed, more than 70 police were injured and 200 arrests were made.

The Met Federation repeated the call after the extent of violence on Carnival Monday this year.

The issue of safety at the Notting Hill Carnival was raised indirectly by Leonie Cooper, a Labour member of the London Assembly, in an apparent attack on Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall.

Ms Hall has expressed long-standing concerns about safety at Carnival and has called for it to be moved.

Ms Cooper claimed that Ms Hall had referred to Carnival being “full of black Londoners” and that there was “a problem with crime amongst black Londoners”, and that Carnival was “dangerous”.

Ms Hall’s spokesman said he had no knowledge of her ever saying carnival was “full of black Londoners” and called on Ms Cooper to provide a source for the quote or withdraw the allegation.

Last month a group of Labour MPs claimed Ms Hall “seems convinced of the innate criminality of Black people”.

The attack, in a letter to Tory party chairman Greg Hands, was dismissed as “desperate smears” by her aides and a mischaracterisation of previous remarks.

Ms Hall’s spokesman said: “Susan is proud to celebrate London’s diversity and as Mayor, she will end Sadiq Khan’s divisive politics and bring people back together. All Londoners are real Londoners, no matter what Sadiq Khan thinks. Susan makes no apology for condemning violence at public events and demonstrations.”

The Met police said there were at least eight stabbings – two serious – and 275 arrests across two days of the 2023 carnival, including for possession of offensive weapons, assaults including on police officers, possession of drugs and sexual offences.

A group was apprehended on the fringes of the carnival and one man arrested for possession of a firearm.

Police officers were sexually assaulted. One officer who was bitten was treated in hospital.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan, who oversaw the policing operation, said: “Carnival is a challenging policing environment.”