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Police officers ordered not to dance with revellers at Notting Hill Carnival

Phoebe Southworth
Around one million people will descend on the capital this bank holiday weekend to celebrate Notting Hill Carnival, Europe's largest street event  - PA

Police officers dancing along with revellers has become a popular tradition of Notting Hill Carnival since it hit the streets of London in 1966.

But this year a superintendent has stepped in to warn her constables not to get distracted by the enticingly rhythmic Caribbean music, as it could take their focus away from preventing crowd crushes.

Around one million people will descend on the capital this bank holiday weekend to celebrate Europe's largest street event with gregarious costumes, sizzling street food and famous guests.

And more than 12,000 police officers will be on hand to make sure the packed procession of performers and revelers parades smoothly through West London.

This year they have been reminded to dedicate themselves to monitoring the crowds and ensuring people are kept safe, and not allow themselves to be diverted by the sometimes overwhelming music booming out from 36 sound system sites.

PC Daniel Graham went viral on social media in 2017 after he began dancing while manning barriers at the carnival.

The footage was circulated online and viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, who praised him for portraying the fun side of policing. 

But Superintendent Elisabeth Chapple, Met Police spokesperson for the event, told The Telegraph that officers would be focussing on crowd control this year.

"There are always going to be different views on dancing and with the music being so fantastic it's so hard not to dance sometimes," she said.

"But we have asked officers to remember what they are there for - to keep carnival-goers safe and be vigilant. That probably means they won't be dancing.

"Our officers are there to keep people safe. If they are dancing and getting involved then they are less able to keep an eye on what's going on."

Matthew Phillip, the carnival's executive director, told The Telegraph he wasn't concerned about police officers joining in with the merriment.

"Carnival is a cultural event - it's not a demonstration or something that needs to be policed in a forceful, strict manner," he said.

"It's about celebrating freedom and unity, so I think it's good that the police engage with the public rather than just standing there.

"Some people can't help moving when they hear music!"

Superintendent Elisabeth Chapple told The Telegraph that officers would be focussing entirely on crowd control this year Credit: John Stillwell/PA

Superintendent Chapple spoke out during a police briefing on Friday (Aug 23) ahead of the carnival.

She revealed that there will be even more screening arches than last year to weed out people carrying weapons, and every band will be escorted through the streets by two police liaison officers.

There will be no Section 60 Order in place, which would give officers the power to stop and search attendees.

Superintendent Chapple said the event would be "safe and spectacular", adding: "It's the same command team as last year and it's going to be very safe.

"It is going to be a fantastic event with more than one million people coming."

Addressing police safety, she said: "Forty-five officers were injured last year and we are going to make sure that doesn't happen this year.

"There were 374 arrests last year and we would like to see that reduced this year."

Referring to the tragic death of PC Andrew Harper in Reading, she added: "Sadly there was a very sad incident within Thames Valley Police. Officer welfare is the most important thing to us.

"The carnival doesn't have a border and there aren't any identification procedures, so that makes it very hard to police.

"Carnival is a very complex policing environment and we will do everything we can to keep Londoners and visitors safe."

Superintendent Chapple also advised festival-goers to prepare themselves for hot weather, with temperatures expected to reach 30C.

"Please make sure you stay hydrated and look after yourselves," she said.

A 72-second silence will be held during the carnival to remember those who were killed in the 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower, which stands a stone's throw away from the parade route.