Leaving their decision to the 11th Hour the police have announced a controversial compromise over one of the world's most famous street parties, the Notting Hill Carnival. This year the event will be closed off to the public but in order to allow the spirit of the Carnival to live on, all those taking part and watching the carnival will be police officers from London and other forces around the country.
Other festivals like Pamplona's Running With the Bulls, Rio Carnival and New Orlean's Mardis Gras are watching closely to see if this can be copied for their events in 2012.
The police have worked closely with the Mayor of London's office on this decision, aware that if the carnival was cancelled they would be accused of being heavy handed, upset all those who put hard work into this year's event and the negative image it sends out to the world about the safety of London. However the police and authorities are also nervous about the mass congregation of people and so felt that so that the Notting Hill Carnival brand is not affected, that it will continue in a safe form this year, organised and enjoyed only by the police.
This week thousands of police officers are having training in all aspects of Carnival life from the music of roots reggae, drum and bass, dub, soca and salsa, as well as how to dance and look like they enjoy listening to loud bass. So that the atmosphere feels genuine, certain police officers have been each assigned roles, some of the younger ones allowed to let their hair down and drink and take drugs, which is seen as essential part of the festival. These officers will not of course be prosecuted and will be able to take time off to detox. This is a relief to local drug dealers who were worried that they would be forced out of business with the police running the carnival.
Others having been sent on cooking courses to run the food stalls, including the essential jerk chicken of the carnival with lessons from Levi Roots and Rusty Lee.
Elsewhere all the sounds systems will go ahead in the various streets of Notting Hill, one of the highlights of the festival as the police are insistent that they are not looking to sanitise the event and pick music more to their ears.
However Norman Jay who always plays to packed crowds at his Good Times stage, has pulled out of the Carnival, the only high profile casualty with the police taking over. Jay felt it was sending out a wrong message. A desperate phone call from the Queen reminded Jay of his duty to this country and the responsibility of having an MBE (Member of the British Empire). Jay has decided to play privately for the Royal Family instead. The police are struggling to master the decks but are confident that they can replicate the Good Times vibe.
The floats one of the highlights of the carnival for families and early birds will still go ahead. Many of these participants have spent months preparing their costumes. Float participants said it would be weird just performing to the police in their uniform but for them they are sure that they will still have a good time, and get the shots of them dancing with police officers which the media love.
The police wanted most of all to avoid negative scenes of police battoning people who are dancing too wildly, arresting those looking too young and menacing or avoiding those pissed up members of the public who like to hug police officers, as has happened in previous years. Due to sensitivity following the riots they realised that this was the safest and most sensible option was for the carnival to go ahead and for the police to create the crowd atmosphere.
Local residents will be allowed to dance from the roof terraces and windows, but are not allowed to leave their houses to join in.
The police have advised everyone against travelling to the event in the small chance they will be able to slip in. All streets leading to the carnival will be blocked.