London carnival enjoys peaceful first day

Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:20pm EDT
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By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON (Reuters) - Revellers packed west London on Sunday for one of Europe's biggest street parties with record numbers of police on duty to make sure there was no repetition of riots that scarred the British capital three weeks ago.

The Notting Hill Carnival, an annual two-day celebration of Caribbean culture that usually draws about 1 million people, got under way in a relaxed atmosphere.

The festival carries more than usual significance this year because it is the biggest event in London since riots flared in the capital on August 6, denting the city's reputation.

With the London Olympics less than a year away, the capital's police force needed to restore public faith in its ability to ensure security at major events.

Police said they had made 33 arrests on drugs charges, theft or other offences -- down from 55 at the same stage last year -- and said the low number of arrests was a sign the first day of the carnival had been good humoured.

The main parade takes place on Monday.

Monty Ward, 56, who runs a mobile sound system and band, said this month's disorder had nothing to do with the carnival.

"It should never have affected this event. We just want the people to come down and have a good time," he said.   Continued...

<p>A performer dances in the street parade at the annual Notting Hill Carnival in central London August 28, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>