Notting Hill Carnival Safety Considerations
23 Aug 2017
The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event held in the Notting Hill area of London during the August bank holiday weekend. This year’s event is due to occur between 27-28 August, though there are some events planned for the evening of 26 August. It is considered to be the largest celebration of Caribbean culture in Europe, with up to two million expected to attend the event. The Notting Hill Carnival comprises parades, food stalls, and is considered one of Europe’s largest street parties.
- The annual Notting Hill Carnival takes place during the bank holiday weekend at the end of August.
- The Carnival is commonly associated with a celebration of London’s Caribbean community.
- Up to 2 million people are expected to attend.
- Crime and safety is considered to be an issue at the event.
Travel Information: The Notting Hill Carnival is an annual event held in the Notting Hill area of London during the August bank holiday weekend. This year’s event is due to occur between 27-28 August, though there are some events planned for the evening of 26 August. It is considered to be the largest celebration of Caribbean culture in Europe, with up to two million expected to attend the event. The Notting Hill Carnival comprises parades, food stalls, and is considered one of Europe’s largest street parties.
The Carnival floats begin at about 0900hrs on both 27 and 28 August, and finish at approximately 2000hrs. However, revellers continue the party long after the parades have ended. Carnival celebrations dominate the W11 post code of West London. The parades on 27 and 28 August are expected to begin on Great Western Road, before heading to Chepstow Road, Westbourne Grove, and Ladbroke Grove. Events on 26 August take place between 1800-2200hrs in Emslie Horniman Pleasance Park.
Solace Global Comment
Due to the size and street-based location of the event, the Notting Hill Carnival represents a significant security challenge. In the 2016 edition of the event, 6,000 police officers were deployed for the Sunday with an extra 1,000 deployed for the Monday. In addition, 1,000 British Transport Police were also deployed to provide extra assistance on the railway and on London Underground. Police activities also cause travel disruption as they set up Traffic Management Zones and areas used to help with crowd management and the movement of emergency vehicles. The Carnival heavily relies on stewards to help facilitate the movements of parading performers. In 2016, more than 2,000 stewards were put into place (up from 900 stewards in the previous year).
Police also regularly carry out preventative work prior to the Carnival in order to stop potential criminality. Police carry out raids on suspected drug dealers, conduct weapon sweeps and Automatic Number Plate Recognition operations, and target known gang members. In 2016, 200 search warrants were executed, with 55 arrested. Police seized Class A and B drugs, weapons, money, and arrested 55 people.
Crime in Years Past
In 2016, there were 15 reported injuries involving a knife or blade, two of which were life-threatening. There were 90 arrests for the possession of weapons, up from 57 in the previous year. In total, 454 people were arrested during the Carnival celebrations. Police have partly attributed this higher number to new laws around drug use including Nitrous Oxide. There were 45 incidents of assault against police officers, including a number of police being spat at. These 45 incidents resulted in 25 arrests. There were 151 cases of violent crime in 2016, an increase of 86 per cent on the 81 incidents to have occurred in 2010. An anti-social behaviour zone was implemented in 2016, with 47 people given dispersal notices, meaning that they had to leave the area and not return within a specific timeframe.
The Threat of Casualties
The scale and nature of the Carnival (a well-attended, difficult to control, outside event) means that casualties are an inevitability. While injures have occurred due to crime they can also occur due to overcrowding. The number of casualties has increased over recent years, increasing concerns over public safety. The police have highlighted three significant areas of the route in 2016 where overcrowding was viewed to be a significant issue – Ladbroke Grove, All Saints Road, and Great Western Road.
Travel and Disruptions
Travel to and from Notting Hill on Carnival weekend will be restricted and heavy congestion is likely. It is advisable that spectators attempt to go early or late to see the parade. The road closures within the Carnival’s vicinity are as follows:
0200 – 0500hrs on 27 August
Elgin Crescent; Westbourne Park Road (between Great Western Road and Ladbroke Grove); Cambridge Gardens (between St Marks Road and Ladbroke Grove); Kensington Park Road (between Westbourne Grove and Elgin Crescent) and Restrictions on Great Western Road
From 0700 to 0000hrs on 27 August and 0700hrs on 28 August to 0500hrs on 29 August, the road closure boundary comprises the following:
Harrow Road in the north, Notting Hill Gate in the south, Clarendon Road in the west, and Queensway in the east. Congestion and delays are expected within the vicinity of these road closures.
Transport for London (TFL) has warned that stations may close temporarily to prevent overcrowding. TFL has also noted that there will be service changes to the London Underground over this weekend. This includes:
Ladbroke Grove: Closed on 27 and 28 August.
Latimer Road: Closed after 2330hrs on 27 August and all day the day after.
Notting Hill Gate: The station will be exit-only between 1100-1900hrs on 27 and 28 August and the Circle/District line will not call at this station.
Westbourne Park: The station will be exit-only between 1100-1800hrs and closed at 2330hrs on 27 and 28 August.
Royal Oak: The station will be exit-only after 1100hrs and closed at 1800hrs on 27 and 28 August.
The nearest overground stations to the event are Willesden Junction, Kensal Rise, Kensal Green, Queen’s Park, and Shepherd’s Bush.
London Bus services are also set to be disrupted. From approximately 0500hrs on 28 August until 0500 on 30 August, buses will be diverted from the Notting Hill and North Kensington area or may terminate earlier than usual. During these hours, buses will start their routes at the Prince of Wales on Harrow Road to the Carnival’s north and from Notting Hill Gate to the Carnival’s south.
Travellers are advised that although the Notting Hill Carnival is a family event (especially 27 August), travel risks remain. It is advisable to avoid the aforementioned areas where overcrowding is a significant issue in order to avoid injury. It is important to maintain situational awareness due to the threat of criminality or heightened unrest. Any crowds that appear to be becoming restless or aggressive should be avoided or the area left immediately. Travellers should also ensure that that they avoid overt displays of wealth so as to evade the attentions of would-be criminals. It is advisable to carry only the money, cards, and property needed for the day and these should be kept out of sight from thieves ideally in a concealed inside pocket or money belt; all valuables should be left at home. Be aware that many cash machines may run out of money early in the day. If drinking alcohol during the day or attending night-time activities, take precautions against drink spiking; keep your drink with you all times. A police officer should be informed of any concerns, crimes, or suspicious individuals or objects. All police instructions should be adhered fully as they are likely to be high alert.
Travellers should be prepared for the extremes of British weather and come prepared with water to prevent against dehydration and stay updated on the weather forecast to understand if sunscreen or wet weather clothing is required. Travellers attending the festivities are advised to plan their routes to and from the Carnival carefully; it is advisable to consider walking from a train or tube station not in the immediate facility of the event. Also, it is important to plan ahead and know how you are getting home. If meeting other people, do so away from the Notting Hill area and then arrive together as it will be difficult to find people in the large crowds. In case of getting lost or separated choose a large landmark at which to regroup, something easy to see in a crowd. Ensure that all members of your group have each otherâs phone numbers written down as well as on mobile devices. Be prepared for long waits at portable toilets and plan accordingly; travellers should consider bringing hand sanitiser and a portable potty for children.
Those not attending the Carnival are advised to expect excessive travel delays and should consider rearranging any planned travel to or near the Notting Hill area, or plan for longer than usual travel times. Solace Global would not advise clients of the need to employ enhanced security measures when visiting the United Kingdom. Travellers may wish to use travel-tracking technology with an intelligence feed to stay updated of any security-related events.
Download Full Report
Please fill out form below to access the full report