Violence and overcrowding make London's annual Notting Hill Carnival a "very real risk to public safety", a committee has found. They have said the event must stop relying on a base of volunteer workers if it is to have a future.
The London Assembly Police and Crime Committee said that the carnival had reached a "tipping point" after consecutive years of mass public disorder and knife crime. They also told organisers to put the event on a stronger financial footing to ensure it can be properly crewed.
"It cannot be right that the group organising one of London's most high-profile events is staffed by volunteers and is not receiving the support it needs," said committee chairman Steve O'Connell.
In 2016, 450 arrests – the highest number for 15 years – were made by a team of 7,000 police officers over the course of the August bank holiday weekend. Emergency services responded to numerous stabbings, four of which were deemed life-threatening.
Notting Hill Police Commander Dave Musker told the committee: "What is different [about the carnival] is the level of violence. Very rarely when I am policing an event will I have that level of serious violence."
He added: "Each year – and last year was no exception – we came exceptionally close to a major catastrophic failure of public safety where members of the public would face serious injury."
The report found that the streets in and around the parade were made unsafe by the one million or so visitors who attended the event in 2016. Emergency services were unable to respond to some calls as roads became completely gridlocked by human traffic.
Musker said: "It is extremely challenging to try to deal with a major or critical incident in the middle of the Carnival when you have massive numbers of people... It would be foolish of me not to say that if we had a catastrophic incident or a major incident in the middle of the event, it would be extremely challenging to deal with.
London Notting Hill Carnival Trust Enterprises would be advised by the Mayor's office on ways to capitalise on the profitability of the celebration. They will then be encouraged to spend the money on more professionalised security and and stewarding forces.