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Monday, August 29, 2011

Rocking it like Rio! Notting Hill Carnival sees hundreds of thousands on the streets for Europe's biggest festival

-Scotland Yard puts a record 6,500 officers on duty in first big test since the riots

By James White

They came in their hundreds of thousands to dance and have a good time, Rio de Janeiro-style.

And today revellers let their hair down in style at the Notting Hill Carnival in West London, with drumming groups, floats and sound systems all taking centre stage.

More than 6,500 police officers were patrolling the streets for the second day of the event as Scotland Yard continued its unprecedented security operation just weeks after the riots.

By 3pm, 17 people had been arrested, bringing the total held over two days to 99.

Tickertape parade: Dancers scream with delight as they take part in the 2011 Notting Hill Carnival

Main event: Drummers take to the streets of Notting Hill, west London, to perform on the second day of the carnival

Good time girls: Performers brave slightly chilly conditions in their incredible costumes

Huge event: The streets of Notting Hill and surrounding areas are filled with revellers

Record numbers of police officers were on duty, with London's reputation at stake in the wake of widespread violence and looting earlier this month.

The festivities got off to a peaceful start yesterday, with more than 5,500 officers on the streets, as revellers descended on the capital for Europe's biggest street festival.

Between 6am on Sunday and 8am today there were 88 arrests for a variety of offences, including drugs possession, public order, theft, criminal damage, robbery and assault, the Metropolitan Police said.

Flamboyant: A woman shows off her carnival costume, left, while another displays her dancing skills

Record police presence: Scotland Yard has put 6,500 officers on duty today for the carnival

Colourful: The event is expected to draw one million people to the area, making it Europe's largest street festival

Say cheese: A woman makes ingenious use of her camera to help her apply make-up today

Butterfly: This carnival-goer's rig looks dramatic as she hits the streets

Officers from the dog support unit also seized three Pit-Bull type dogs under section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act but no-one was arrested, the force added.

Last night, Commander Steve Rodhouse announced there would be a larger police operation in place today, with yesterday's 5,500 officers increased to 6,500.

What a day: These participants enjoy themselves while wearing dramatic headgear, left, while others take part in the parade, right

Delicious: Chefs prepare industrial quantities of jerk chicken for the hungry masses

Police chiefs launched their 'robust' strategy against troublemakers by making more than 40 pre-emptive arrests last week and agreeing an earlier finish time with organisers.

Commander Rodhouse said: 'Traditionally, Sunday is children's day, thousands of people came out in Notting Hill to take part in this vibrant event which is so important in the capital's calendar.

'Through effective stop-and-search, we believe we have deterred and prevented trouble from taking place.

'We've worked closely with event stewards and have seen huge support from all carnival participants to meet that really important earlier closedown.

'Our intelligence picture has not changed and we will make sure that our officers are out stopping the right people so everyone else can take part and join in the fun.'

Police have put in place a Section 60 order, which allows them to search individuals to prevent serious violence, and a Section 60 AA order, giving officers the power to require any person to remove items that conceal their identity.

Elsewhere in London there were more than 4,000 additional officers 'as well as the thousands who are normally on duty', Mr Rodhouse said.

Mr Rodhouse previously said troublemakers were plotting disruption via social networking technology.

He said the 'degree of chatter' surrounding troublemakers was consistent with previous years - despite thousands of arrests after the wave of looting and violence that gripped England a few weeks ago.

London Mayor Boris Johnson issued a rallying call before the festivities began to 'let the true spirit of London shine through', hoping the carnival will help heal wounds left by the riots.

'It's right that the carnival goes ahead so we can show the world that the overwhelming majority of London's people are decent, law-abiding citizens who respect the law, love their city and want to celebrate our vibrant, diverse and historical culture,' he said.

The Mayor will be visiting the carnival this afternoon.

Carnival-goers have so far enjoyed clearer skies today than they did yesterday.

Victoria Kettley, forecaster at MeteoGroup, said: 'It has been a fine start and should remain dry. Temperatures will be about 18 degrees.'

After downpours the previous day, the weather yesterday was mainly kind to revellers and remained mild, although showers passed through Notting Hill for half an hour.

Fun times: More women join the party as a policeman looks on

Putting on a show: Dancers give a dramatic performance for the Bank Holiday crowds



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