Met Police faces anger after linking kilo of seized heroin to Notting Hill Carnival

'This is unfortunately indicative of the institutional and insidious racism black music events and communities still face'

May Bulman
Tuesday 22 August 2017 14:55
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Police have been accused of “demonising” Notting Hill Carnival by linking it to a drugs raid that took place on the other side of the capital
Police have been accused of “demonising” Notting Hill Carnival by linking it to a drugs raid that took place on the other side of the capital

The Metropolitan Police has prompted anger after linking a kilo of heroin seized in south east London to Notting Hill Carnival, an event due to take place 12 miles away on the other side of the capital.

Officers announced early on Tuesday that they had seized what was believed to be a kilo of heroin in Catford as part of a pan-London response to violence and knife crime launched last Friday in the run up to the carnival.

But the force has been accused of “demonising” the event by linking it to the incident on Twitter, despite the drugs being found more than 12 miles from the Notting Hill site and there being no indication that heroin has been used widely at the carnival in previous years.

A tweet posted by the Met Police on Tuesday morning read: “In the run up to #NottingHillCarnival, officers have this morning seized what is believed to be a kilo of uncut heroin in #Catford.”

A spokesperson for the force told The Independent the link was made because the raids had been carried out to target offences that could impact on the safety of the weekend, but said there was no indication that the seized heroin was in any way linked to the carnival.

Jarelle Francis, Green Party candidate for Tottenham in the General Election and Greens of Colour representative, told The Independent the tweet was "indicative of the institutional and insidious racism black music events and communities still face," and urged the Met to consider wording its social media output "more wisely" in future.

“Every year many people feel the Metropolitan Police and media collude together to denigrate Notting Hill Carnival, which is a fantastic showpiece of the wonderful plural society we have in London and the UK," he said.

"This latest tweet by the Met linking carnival to the bust of a non-party drug Heroin, in Catford which is 12 miles from Notting Hill, is risible. But it is also unfortunately indicative of the institutional and insidious racism black music events and communities still face.

"This year especially is going to be more poignant because we are celebrating our culture whilst remembering the victims of Grenfell. The Met should really consider their words and tweets more wisely."

Social media users also responded to the tweet with anger. One person commented: “Catford is about 12 miles away from Notting Hill, in a different borough and takes about an hour to get to on the tube? So the link is?” while another asked: “Where’s the correlation? Explain.”

Another user claimed the force was “trying so hard to demonise Notting Hill Carnival”, accusing it of including a hashtag of the carnival when there is “no correlation between the event and this incident.”

In a statement issued following the raids, Superintendent Tara McGovern, Lewisham borough, said: “The warrants we have executed today have been a culmination of several months work. So far we have arrested 11 people with a substantial amount of Class A drugs recovered.

“We have been targeting people we know to be gang members and habitual knife carriers, identifying and arresting people in the run up to the Notting Hill carnival who may look to cause harm.

“Today's operation conducted with the help of British Transport Police and City of London Police in the lead up to the carnival has been a success, we all want to ensure Notting Hill Carnival is safe from harm.”

The Met Police released an adjoining statement which read: "As part of the Met's pan-London response to violence and knife crime, and in the run up to Notting Hill Carnival, officers across the Capital have been engaged in proactive operations since Friday, 11 August, targeting and disrupting gang crime, drug supply, knife crime and other offences that could impact on the safety of the weekend."

It added that prior to the morning’s activity, officers had made over 290 arrests for a range of offences recovering 190 knives and 18 firearms, and said the activity would continue during the week.

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