Monday, 30 August 2010

The Notting Hill Carnival - If you want to know the way don't ask a Policeman

Just got back from the Notting Hill Carnival. Although it takes less than an hour from Mill Hill to get there on the train (Mill Hill to St Pancras on Thameslink, then St P to Westbourne Park on the tube) - getting back is slight more difficult. The problem? The Police. Sadly they really didn't seem to be, shall we say, too switched on. We returned to Westbourne Park, only to be told that it was Exit only until 18:00 - to regulate the crowds. This is a rather odd policy, given that 18:00 is the designated time for the sound systems to switch off. Surely all they achieved was to delay many people's departure until then, causing even more crushes and crowds. A "helpful" Met officer advised us to walk a mile to Royal Oak station which was open. This we did. There a helpful British Transport Policeman informed us that it was "exit only until 18:00 to avoid crushes" As we were the only people around, this seemed rather bizarre. I informed him "that his mate at Westbourne Park had told us that it was open". His response "That was the Met, they are not our mates". He then advised that we walk to Paddington. The route he gave took us under the Westway, through a flooded area, which involved myself and my kids having to climb near a very fast and busy highway to avoid. 

Why is it that the Police in this country seem to think that the best way to "manage crowds" is to make things impossible for people, especially those with children. The carnival is a fantastic event, well worth a visit, but the stupidity of the public transport travel arrangements beggars belief. Is it acceptable that Policemen on duty at closed stations are not told what other stations are open and what is the best option. What is even worse is the way they smirk when they realise you've walked a mile out of your way, with your kids to another closed station. 

I love the carnival. It is a real festival, run by the people, for the people. The daytime Sunday  childrens parades are spectacular and safe. The only time I saw the slightest anger was when we realised that the police thought it was funny to send people on long wild goose chases. How hard would it be for them to be properly briefed, given that every one had an earpiece (which I started to suspect is used soley for racing tips and to inform them of when it's tea break).


Unknown said...

I was there yesterday and had a great time, until it was time to go. There were lines of police in military-style staggered formation across the streets about every 50 yards or so. I understand they need to control the crowds but does it have to be so intimidating at the end of a lovely day?
Am off again now - to dance!

Broadway Blogger said...

Funny you should mention the Police. We have a more pressing problem with the Police in Mill Hill.

I decided to go to the Park today. Walking past the DOME building it was noticable that the Community HQ for Police was shut and shuttered. Not one car in the car park.

So here we are paying MILLIONS to have a POLICE HQ for Community Police in Mill Hill and yet on a Bank Holiday when the community had a day off to enjoy the area the community police were no-where to be seen.......

Most people dont even know this place exists because outside the front door is no sign - and you have to enter the building to see the sign for the Mill Hill Community Team.....

What a massive waste of money and I dont understand why politicians from all sides are not creating a big stink about this scandalous waste of tax payers money.

I might add on weekend nights on the Broadway when we do see some unsocial behaviour there are no Police around either....and the CCTV cameras are not viewed either because I saw an incident on the Broadway go on for nearly an hour during which bins were overturned and windows of shops were nearly broken and fights were breaking out. There was no Police response and in fact on at least two occasions they sped by in their vans totally oblivious to the problem.

You may ask why I did not ring the Police. Well - you only ring them in an emergency and if someone had been injured or a shop smashed up I would have rung but unless that happens the 999 operators treat you as if you are wasting their time. Unsocial behaviour and fighting is not something the Police want to be involved in sorting out.

My experience of the Met's crowd control has actually been better than their day to day Policing - but I do see your point about the way in which they now Police crowds in a "them and us" way which comes across as very intimidating especially to the law abiding citizens ( the majority ) of this lovely land we live in.

The Globe Trotter said...

We were there on Monday while getting in was easy - leaving was a bit difficult. Though the Notting Hill tube station was open - it was pretty crowded and the pedestrian traffic was stopped at many places...
anyway - enjoyed the carnival