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Al Carnival Crime Played Down Say Police
- Officers discouraged from making arrests in fear of inciting violence

CRIME LEVELS at the Notting Hill Carnival were deliberately played down for political reasons it emerged yesterday.

Glenn Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said officers were forced to turn a blind eye to criminal activity for fear of provoking outbreaks of violence.

"For a number of years, the level of reported crime is far below that which really happens. There is a significant criminal minority who exploit it in full knowledge that the police will tread extremely lightly," he said.

Mr Smyth said that less serious crimes at the periphery of the carnival route were not included in the official carnival crime statistics. Drug dealers, in particular, were allowed to go freely about their business. "People are downplaying the level of crime at the carnival for political reasons because they want it to have a good image. We need to have a debate now or there will be a terrible disaster at the carnival."

He stated that attendance levels at the carnival should be reduced by a third, while vice-chairman of the federation, Dave Rodgers, suggested that barriers be set up on the route to control the number of visitors. However, the Notting Hill Carnival Trust which organises the event said: "Realistically there is no way of stopping people coming to Notting Hill for the carnival. The carnival is run on public roads and people have a right of way."

In total there were two murders, 19 stabbings, 69 injuries and 129 arrests among an attendance of 2.5 million at this year's carnival. 7,500 officers were on duty.

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