Police must not be 'overwhelming and oppressive' at Carnival

Gizelle Morris

As British authorities prepare to deploy hundreds of extra officers to the annual Notting Hill Carnival this bank holiday weekend, rapso music artiste Wendell Manwarren believes London's Metropolitan Police can take a lesson or two from Trinidad and Tobago's law enforcement service.

Responding to questions posed by the editor of The-Latest, Manwarren described the police presence at Notting Hill Carnival as  "overwhelming and oppressive".

He was speaking at a Poison UK promotions company press conference, hosted at the T&T High Commission in London, to officially launch tonight's Carnival concert, featuring top performer Machel Montano at the Forum in Kentish Town.

Making reference to the unobtrusive, yet effective policing at T&T's world famous Carnival, which was the forerunner of the one in London, the rapso artiste said while British police must maintain a presence it should not be heavy-handed or oppressive.

Close to 5,000 police officers are expected to be on duty in and around the parade route on Sunday, while this number will increase to 5,700 on Monday when the Parade of Bands will be held through the streets of Notting Hill. Teams of officers are to be located on every street.

Anywhere from 500,000 to 1.5 million people are expected to attend this year's event which features many elements of T&T Carnival, including a steelband competition, parade of bands, calypso competitions and music trucks blasting out soca music.

Speaking about tonight's performance, Montano said it was important to maintain links with the various Carnivals and Caribbean diaspora around the world.

The entertainer, who will be spending Monday on the UK digital music channel MTV Base float, said London's Carnival is no different to Trinidad's.  "It may have a different format, but you will still see women wining on policemen. That freedom is the essence of Carnival," he said.

Montano also praised PoisonUK for supporting Caribbean culture and bringing together a diverse cast of Caribbean artists, which includes, Ricky T, Lil Rick and Patrice Roberts, for tonight's performance.

 "London is an expensive place and it must be hard on promoters to house artists. I have to commend PoisonUK they are the only group who have hired me to come to England," he complained.

Ashton Forde, T&T's cultural attaché at the High Commission, also lauded the efforts of PoisonUK in bringing top Caribbean performers to British audiences.

 "This weekend is our time for culture …our steelband, soca and calypso are our cultural ambassadors," he added.