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Notting Hill Carnival 2017: Former MP calls for safer event with claims it has been 'plagued by criminal activity'

During her two-year period as MP Lady Victoria Borwick looked at ways to improve safety at the Carnival and cut policing costs

The former Kensington MP says organisers of the Notting Hill Carnival must prevent “any more deaths or injuries”, claiming it has been “ plagued by criminal activity in recent years”.

Lady Victoria Borwick’s call to the London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust (LNHCET) for a “safer carnival” comes in the same month the annual event returns to the streets on North Kensington.

Carnival safety was one of the key focuses in Lady Victoria’s two-year stint as an MP between 2015 to 2017, but angered many regular carnival goers and those living in the community.

During her time as MP, she mooted plans to relocate the event to Hyde Park and wanted to examine further the suggestion to ticket the event, which is regularly attended by more than a million people each year.

She looked at the possibility of charging to attend as a way of cutting policing costs, which now exceeds £8 million.

Speaking on Wednesday (August 2) she said: “The Notting Hill Carnival has been plagued by criminal activity in recent years and Carnival organisers have been unable to tackle this threat.

“In 2015 the Met reported that over 400 arrests were made – that is the highest number in more than a decade.

“Speaking to local residents, it is clear that more needs to be done to address their concerns to deliver a safer Carnival .

“For years residents have had to leave their homes and businesses on the August bank holiday and the council has had to move elderly and vulnerable residents to alternative accommodation away from the Carnival because of fears about safety and anti-social behaviour.

“The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) commissioned a report last year to improve crowd safety and recommendations have been made including exploring whether Carnival could be moved, whether it could take place for a shorter time and whether it should adopt a ticketing policy.

The Notting Hill Carnival, which has taken place annually since 1964, attracts over a million people. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

“I welcome the fact that Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has called for challenges to be addressed.

“The most important thing is that the Carnival organisers, the Mayor of London and the local councils ensure that this year’s Carnival is safe for everyone.

"Failure to do so puts lives at risk. There must be no more unnecessary deaths or injuries in North Kensington."

Violent crime at the 2016 carnival saw one 15-year-old boy disembowelled in a knife attack .

Lady Victoria lost her seat in one of the shocks of the General Election , when her 7,361 majority in a Tory heartland was overturned by Labour’s Emma Dent Coad, who triumphed by just 20 votes.

At a post-carnival meeting held at Kensington Town Hall between LNHCET and residents in October 2016, some said high crime figures meant it should be moved, with other locations suggested including Wormwood Scrubs.

But other passionately defended the carnival, with one calling it “a joyful event”.

Cllr Dent Coad, who is also a borough councillor, said at the meeting: “Criminals come to carnival, carnival doesn’t create the criminals.”

However, there was general consensus that the celebration of black culture that the carnival was set up to mark half a century ago was being lost and that a return to its roots was needed.

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