March 6, 2021

Police activate stop and search powers for Notting Hill Carnival

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By Vikram Dodd From The Guardian UK

Met says intelligence and recent violence in London prompted section 60 order

Thousands of officers at Notting Hill carnival have been given the power to stop and search people without the need for reasonable suspicion in response to police chiefs’ fears of serious violence.

The Metropolitan police said on Sunday that the whole of the carnival area in west London would be covered by a section 60 order, based on intelligence received in recent days.

Section 60 is a controversial power that critics say gives police draconian powers and can lead to the disproportionate targeting of African-Caribbean people.

The order will last for the whole of Sunday, the first day of the carnival, which is also children’s day, and it is also highly likely to be imposed on Monday, the busiest day of the two-day event.

Commander Dave Musker, who is in charge of the policing operation, said: “The MPS has worked tirelessly to develop an appropriate and proportionate policing plan; however, given the intelligence picture and incidents of violence I have seen across the city over the last week, I have made the decision to authorise this order as an additional preventative measure.

“The use of this authority will reassure our communities that we are constantly working to protect them. It will also send a message to those intent on committing acts of violence that we will robustly target them.

“Section 60s have been used tactically to prevent violence across London over the past few weeks and I can assure you they are not used without detailed analysis of intelligence.”

The relevant power is contained in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and means an officer does not need reasonable suspicionto use the stop and search tactic. It is supposed to be a temporary measure that an officer above the rank of inspector can impose if it is believed “that incidents involving serious violence may take place”.

It adds: “A constable may … stop any person or vehicle and make any search [s/]he thinks fit whether or not [s/]he has any grounds for suspecting that the person or vehicle is carrying weapons or articles of that kind.

“If in the course of a search under this section a constable discovers a dangerous instrument or an article which [s/]he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be an offensive weapon, [s/]he may seize it.”

Police are using knife arches at the carnival for the first time, and declaring the carnival a section 60 area, makes it easier for someone who refuses to use an arch citing civil liberties, to be stopped and searched.

Musker said: “I have not made this decision lightly, but with the safety and security of all those planning to attend this event in the forefront of my mind. I will personally keep this order under constant review, and when I believe this no longer forms part of a proportionate policing plan, it will cease.”

Violent crime including knife attacks has risen in London this year and the number of homicides has reached 100.

Police are using a range of tactics at the carnival, with about 13,000 officer deployments across the two days, with 6,162 officers and staff on duty on Sunday and 6,858 on duty on Monday.

Some in the British African-Caribbean community feel the carnival is viewed differently to other large festivals because it is a black event.

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An early morning start involving coloured flour, oil and paints at Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock

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