Over 6,000 officers deployed to police Notting Hill Carnival today have been given the power to stop and search individuals without reasonable suspicion. The whole carnival area in west London will reportedly be covered by a section 60 order, a controversial power that negates the usual rules about searching citizens in public.
The order will take effect for the entirety of today (Sunday August 26, the first day of Carnival). It will most likely carry over to Monday, too, the celebration’s busiest day, when approximately 900 extra officers will be deployed to bring the total up to almost 7,000.
There is a worry that the police’s ability to stop and search people without due cause could lead to a disproportionate focus upon minority groups, who statistics overwhelmingly show are unfairly targeted by British police. Obviously, this mars the carnival’s celebration of Britain’s diverse (and, specifically, Caribbean) culture and perpetuates the tension between the Met Police and the annual event.
The initiation of the section 60 order follows many other extra precautions taken for 2018’s iteration of the Notting Hill Carnival. Shops and houses have been boarded up – businesses fitting barricades has apparently doubled in the last decade – and new metal-detecting knife arches have been installed.
Police have also been issued special kits to deal with acid attacks, following an acid-based attack at last year’s celebration.