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Scotland Yard today hit back at criticism over its policing tactics in the run up to Notting Hill carnival saying it would do anything to keep people safe at the Bank Holiday event.
The force was attacked after tweeting that it had seized a kilo of heroin in Catford in a raid linked to a crackdown on criminality at the carnival.
The tweet prompted Grime star Stormzy to reply: “How many drugs did you lot seize in the run up to Glastonbury or we only doing tweets like this for black events?”
Today Commander Dave Musker, the officer in overall charge of policing the carnival, said : “What do the public expect of us? Last year we had 70 to 80 stabbings, four of them people who nearly lost their lives in attempted murders.
“My officers saved the lives of those people but I cannot remember a single murder at Glastonbury.
“We are going to be uncompromising in ensuring the safety and security of the public and if that means putting a significant effort into dealing with criminality before carnival I am unapologetic about that and will continue to do it.
“I will arrest anyone, anywhere, if we have intelligence they are involved in crime and they intend to travel to the carnival to cause trouble.”
Commander Musker declared that it was “naive” to suggest that criminals with heroin could have no links to the carnival or plans to attend the event.
He also defended the use of facial recognition technology to scan the faces of revellers to identify troublemakers after critics such as the human rights group Liberty raised concerns that it could be illegal.
Martha Spurrier, the director of Liberty, said: “This intrusive biometric surveillance has no place at the Notting Hill carnival. There is no basis in law for facial recognition, no transparency around its use.”
The Met trialled the use of facial recognition cameras at last year’s but they failed to pick out any suspects.
Commander Musker said : “We are using the human eye in the form of ‘super recognisers’ to look out for criminals and we would like a technological solution where we can pick out people who are involved in criminality.
“We will only target people who we know are wanted by police or who have been banned from carnival as part of their bail conditions.”
He added: “ I am here to keep the public safe and I will use any lawful and audacious tactic I can to do that.”
He admitted that the use of facial recognition cameras was not a “proven tactic” but said police invited the civil liberties group Liberty to watch police using facial recognition cameras saying : “We are being open and transparent about this, we are not just targeting everyone.”
He revealed that police had made 656 arrests in the three weeks before the carnival, recovered 27 firearms and seized 400 offensive weapons and knives.
Last year police recorded nearly a thousand offences – 981 – at carnival last year including reports of drugs possession, theft, robbery and assault.
Around a million people are expected to attend the two day Bank Holiday event with revellers being urged to wear green this year to honour the survivors and victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
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