Killing sparks police calls for end to Notting Hill carnival

'Every year we argue that this event should not take place but we are not listened to,' says police federation chairman

Forensics officers comb the scene in Ladbroke Grove, west London, where Takayo Nembhard, 21, a rapper from Bristol, died. PA
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Calls are being made for the Notting Hill carnival to be cancelled after violence left one man dead at the event's return to the streets of London this year.

The chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation (MPF), a staff association for all Met police officers, said the carnival must not be allowed to take place again.

Millions attended the Notting Hill carnival ― the first in three years after Covid-enforced cancellations ― over the bank holiday weekend but that was counterbalanced by more than 200 arrests, 74 officers injured and one person killed, Takayo Nembhard, 21, a rapper from Bristol.

“For the last two years my colleagues have spent the August bank holiday not being assaulted in large numbers. Why not? Because the Notting Hill carnival did not take place,” said Ken Marsh, chairman of the MPF.

“But today we are having to again face the fall-out from policing the event. The tragedy is that someone has been killed.

“But also 34 of my colleagues have been hurt after coming under attack. One female officer was grabbed in a headlock and sexually assaulted.

“This is completely unacceptable. Every year we argue that this event should not take place but we are not listened to," Mr Marsh said. “There were 11,000 officers on duty across the weekend. For lots of them, this was their first experience of policing the carnival and they have been left extremely shocked by what they have seen and been subjected to.

“We are simply not listened to and those who support the carnival do not seem to care what happens to police officers. The violence my colleagues face when policing this event seems to be the price we have to pay and that is a completely unacceptable situation.”

More than two million people are estimated to have attended the carnival over three days.

The two-day carnival is renowned for its uplifting atmosphere and colourful celebration of Caribbean culture.

Sound systems took vinyl, classic and reggae music to the streets, accompanied by dancing crowds, a variety of food trucks, and vibrant costumes.

While Sunday, set aside as a family day, went fairly smoothly, carnival goers observed a far more dangerous atmosphere by Monday.

Crushing crowds, pervasive drug and alcohol use and scattered outbreaks of violence created an uneasy atmosphere for many, and the heavy police presence did little to ease that sense.

For many, it was a time to celebrate and party after Covid forced the event's cancellation in 2021 and 2020.

But Roy Ramm, a former Met commander, said the carnival also provided the chance for rival drug dealers to incite violence.

“The trouble is, these young men, and it is young men, they want to fight, mark out their territory and sell their drugs. They are determined to wreck it in the evenings. I think it is for the community to reject this.”

Updated: August 31, 2022, 3:25 PM