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Stop Defining Notting Hill Carnival By Its Drug Arrests

There was crime, sure, but out of the million attendees, the proportion is pretty fucking tiny.

by Carlton Férment
30 August 2016, 12:30pm

Notting Hill Carnival 10 years ago. Photo by David Iliff (via)

Another year passes and Notting Hill Carnival, the capital's largest open-air festival, comes and goes. Cans of Red Stripe and empty jerk chicken and curry goat receptacles are cleaned up as west London takes stock of the last two days of partying.

READ: Photos of the Beautiful People of Notting Hill Carnival

As ever, there was a bit of trouble: 440 people were arrested; 156 on Sunday and 256 on Monday. There were also five stabbing incidents, with one involving two teenagers aged 14 and 15. When the arrest statistics for Carnival are released each year and contain reports of stabbings, it's important to remember that the majority of the arrests are drug-related, and that those arrested make up less than 0.05 per cent of the one million annual Carnival-goers.

But as we know, a blind eye is no longer being turned towards the humble laughing gas salesman, whose trade is now prohibited. The Met Police enjoy making a song and dance about seizing the essentially harmless breathable narcotic. Their website claims that they seized "150 canisters" at the carnival and that they "have a street value of over £2,000" which, if you've ever bought a balloon outside a club or know how much anything costs or you're not a moron, you'll know is flagrantly inaccurate.

Image via Met Police Twitter.

They also managed to seize about 100 cans of Stella from some budding entrepreneurs illegally selling alcohol without a license. What is this, 1920s America? Am I going to have to go to a basement in Ladbroke Grove to get served a bottle of Peroni Nastro Azzurro in a teacup by a delightfully plump flapper girl called Mavis? Sounds pretty nice actually, well up for that. Either way, well done lads, you stole a bin of lager from some poor bloke trying to make a couple of hundred quid, probably to spend down the pub anyway. Nice one.

Earlier this year, Conservative MP for Kensington and Chelsea Victoria Borwick conducted a survey of her constituents. Those who responded wanted the festival to be confined to one day, and be held exclusively in Wormwood Scrub park, which defeats the point of it being a carnival with colourful floats and a procession.

As London continues to mutate into a place where Caribbean culture is no longer welcome, it's no surprise that this aspect of the event that seems to be more and more bypassed every year in favour of arbitrary numbers of weed dealer arrests.

More from VICE:

How Laughing Gas Inspired Early Psychedelic Literature

A Generation of Entrepreneurs Are Being Stunted By the Laughing Gas Ban

Why I Hate Notting Hill Carnival

Tagged:
Drugs
crime
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Booze
Fun
Notting HIll Carnival
met police
The Police