Peaceful start for Notting Hill Carnival

Hundreds of thousands of Londoners and tourists enjoyed a peaceful start to the Notting Hill Carnival yesterday amid a heavy police presence and an early finish to deter troublemakers.

More than 5,000 officers patrolled the streets as revellers enjoyed Europe's biggest street festival in what was Scotland Yard's greatest test since the riots earlier this month.

A Section 60 order is in place across London for the two-day festival which allows officers extra powers to stop and search people. Plain-clothes officers, a circling helicopter and 40 pre-emptive arrests were part of the police's "robust" strategy to reassert London's reputation which took a hammering during the riots. As of 8pm last night, 53 arrests had been made at the carnival, for offences including drugs possession, public order, theft, criminal damage, robbery and assault.

The day began with Jour Ouvert, which involves festival-goers covering themselves in paint and flour, an event inspired by the Indian festival of Holi.

Some 70 floats took part in the children's day parade. Chilly weather and showers failed to dampen spirits.