High security and Grenfell prayers mark start of Notting Hill carnival

High security and Grenfell prayers mark start of Notting Hill carnival

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An intense security operation is in place as the Notting Hill Carnival gets under way.
The two-day west London festival, taking place in the shadow of the burnt-out Grenfell Tower, will see thousands of police officers on the streets.

Steel barriers, concrete blocks and weapons checks are some of the measures being used to help protect the world-famous carnival from the threat of a Barcelona-style terror incident as well as acid attacks.

Police said there is no specific counter-terrorism intelligence but security plans had been “thoroughly reviewed” following the attack in the Spanish city earlier this month, in which 15 people died after being hit by a van.

Officers will be stationed around the perimeter of the carnival zone, carrying out checks for weapons and corrosive substances, following a controversial three-week crackdown to reduce criminality at the event.
They also plan to use facial recognition technology, which will help the force spot those thought to be likely to cause trouble.

Overall policing numbers will stay the same as last year, with around six to seven thousand officers on duty each day. Hundreds of hand-drawn tributes, flowers and candles laid in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire will be protected by fencing, while a “ring of care” will be formed around the tower by police officers to protect the Lancaster West estate from the hundreds of thousands of passing carnival-goers.

Local MP Emma Dent Coad, who has said the carnival is needed this year more than ever, will give a speech on Sunday morning as the celebration opens with a multi-faith prayer and release of doves in remembrance of the dead. Performers passing the blackened high-rise have been encouraged to lower their music volume and walk respectfully in memory of those who died in the inferno.

At 3pm on both days hundreds of thousands of revellers along the route are expected to pause and observe a minute’s silence to mark the tragedy, in which at least 80 people died. Organisers are encouraging attendees to wear or accessorise in “green for Grenfell” in a display of “reverence and respect amidst the revelry”.

There will be a reflection zone near the tower and posters have been put up asking the public not to take photographs “at the site of our great loss” – an activity which has distressed locals since the fire two months ago.

Police said a dedicated area would be put in place for people to leave tributes without obstructing the carnival flow.

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