Expert advice on Notting Hill Carnival

Reference code: 
PCD 104
Date signed: 
12 December 2016
Authorisation name: 
Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor, Policing and Crime

Executive summary

The Notting Hill Carnival Strategic Partners Group has agreed that a thorough assessment of crowd dynamics would be useful in order to make improvements to crowd safety to future Carnivals. Following a short bidding process, three bids have been received and feedback has been sought from the Group.


That the DMPC appoints Movement Strategies to provide expert advice on Notting Hill Carnival for the sum of £53,794.

Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)

1.    Introduction and background

Notting Hill Carnival

1.1.    The Notting Hill Carnival marked its 50th anniversary this year and attracted between 1 and 1.5 million people over the bank holiday weekend of 28/29 August.

1.2.    The carnival, which consists of a parade of floats and bands, and a variety of sound systems set up across the footprint which covers parts of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster City Council, is Europe’s biggest street festival. 

1.3.    The Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust has a mission to “foster the creative development and enhancement of diverse artistic excellence, thus transforming perceptions of London Notting Hill Carnival culture locally, nationally and internationally”. 

Strategic Partners Group

1.4.    The Notting Hill Strategic Partners Group was established in 2015 in order to bring all the partners with an interest in the carnival together to set a strategic direction for the carnival and ensure appropriate involvement from all and coordination between groups. 

1.5.    The Group is made up of representatives from the Notting Hill Carnival Trust, GLA, MOPAC, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster City Council, the Arts Council, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police Service. 

1.6.    In terms of operational planning, the event this year saw much improvement, especially in terms of the stewarding planning and provision – enabling the police to ‘proactively police’ much more than in previous years. But all partners are agreed that there is still much to do.

1.7.    The Carnival Strategic Partners Group has been working with the Carnival Trust for the last 18 months in supporting the development of a business plan and enhanced stewarding plan. The increase of stewards this year was part of a 3-year implementation plan to increase the numbers of stewards and reduce the demand on policing for this event so that they were able to focus on policing, rather than stewarding.

1.8.    Two key issues, relating to crowd management and crowd dynamics have been identified as needing addressing:

A) Overcrowding in locations around the event footprint – possibly compounded by the locations of sound-systems, stalls and bars; the use of barriers; and the nature of the footprint itself. 
B) Management of the parade route – including the use, volume and frequency of HGVs and other vehicles; the timings of the parade; the number of, and diversity of activity sought by, participants; and the route through the area itself.

1.9.    Since the Carnival took place this summer, a number of people (such as the MPS, local authorities and residents) have expressed their concerns about the risks associated with overcrowding, including the direct risk to those attending Carnival, and the difficulties in dealing with emergencies during Carnival due to overcrowding.

2.    Issues for consideration

2.1.    Given the concerns raised about some elements of Carnival this year, the Strategic Partners Group decided to seek expert advice on crowd dynamics. The group agreed that the oversight of the preparation of the advice would sit with the Group at a strategic level, but would be directly commissioned, and managed by, MOPAC. We will provide ongoing updates to the group to ensure their interests continue to be represented.

2.2.    The broad remit of the work is as follows:

Areas outside the scope of the review include:

•    Moving the Carnival outside the current area.
•    Closing Carnival or shortening the period for which it runs.

Any recommendations must ensure that Carnival remains accessible to the communities it represents, and those wishing to visit.

The assessment will consider the issues in the indicative list below, albeit with the active engagement of members of the Group:

•    The footprint of the Carnival and its capacity.
•    The timing of the parade.
•    The route, volume and movement of vehicles through the carnival.
•    The location and number of sound systems.
•    The general features of the street should also be considered, for example street furniture.
•    The location and number of stalls.
•    The phasing of activity over the weekend.
•    Improvements to events management that would facilitate better crowd safety.
•    Legal requirements and obligations on those involved in Carnival, including the GLA, MPS, Local Councils and the Notting Hill Carnival Trust.
•    Any other such issues as recommended by the Reviewer, albeit within the restrictions set out below, and under the oversight of the Group. 
•    The impact of crowd dynamics on tackling and preventing crime and disorder

The assessment will be completed by the end of January, in time for any recommendations to be considered and implemented for Carnival 2017.

2.3.    The circumstances dictated that there was a need to act expeditiously if we were to enable work to take place to deliver recommendations for change in time for the planning stage of next year’s Carnival. 

2.4.    There was a limited market of organisations who have the expertise and the capacity, in short order, to provide this advice. Further we acknowledged that, across the partners group there is limited expertise in this field, so criteria for the work should not be so tightly drawn as to restrict expertise unnecessarily. To that end, we have approached potential providers (as below) the remit as above, but with enough flexibility to allow them to inform us of what they could reasonably achieve.

2.5.    In order to ensure the correct people were approached, we have sought and received views on who could provide this advice from DAC Peter Terry of the Metropolitan Police Service, and Chief Constable Justine Curren, the National Police Chief’s Council lead on Public Order. This exercise was informed by internal MOPAC expertise developed from overseeing similar activity in the past. Advice on potential bidders was also received from within the Strategic Partners Group.

2.6.    Once potential providers were identified, MOPAC undertook a desk-based review of publicly available information about them and the wider market. This work identified three agencies who were appeared best placed to undertake the work. This meets the requirement under procurement guidelines for three bidders at the estimated contract level. 

2.7.    The organisations approached were the University of Sussex, Manchester Metropolitan University and Movement Strategies.

2.8.    The three potential agencies were all provided with a copy of the Strategic Partners Group paper, including the remit as outlined above. They were then approached by MOPAC officials to provide further verbal advice before they were invited to produce a scoping paper.  

2.9.    The potential providers were asked to set out their offer to us to make Carnival safer, accepting that we needed some specific recommendations by mid-February 2017.  This would not, though, preclude longer term work. They were asked to set out the cost of this work, and demonstrate the expertise they would bring to the work.

2.10.    As above, the criteria for the work specifically set out that moving the location of the Carnival or cancelling the Carnival were out with the scope of the work, as these would not meet the aims of the strategic partners group. As above, the broad criteria were set out as an opportunity for the providers to set out their expertise and offer. 

2.11.    Once the three proposals had been returned they were reviewed internally and circulated for the comments of members of the strategic partners group. This review and comment process has determined the scores below. 

Scored Criteria


Sussex University

Manchester Metropolitan University

Movement Strategies

Demonstrate an understanding of the issues (20%)





Show they understand and can meet the requirements and criteria (30%)





Show relevant expertise to deliver the work as set out in the requirements (20%)





Demonstrate capacity to do the work in the timescale (20%)




Cost (10%)








The recommendation is, then, that Movement Strategies be appointed by MOPAC, on behalf of the Strategic Partners Group, to carry out to work.

3.    Financial Comments

3.1    The costs of this review of £53,794 are expected to be incurred during 2016/17.  The cost is being underwritten by MOPAC, but financial contributions are being sought from other members of the Strategic Partners Group.

4.    Legal Comments

4.1    N/A

5.    Equality Comments

5.1.    The carnival is one of Europe's largest street parties with hundreds of thousands attending each year. It has been held since 1964 as a way for African-Caribbean communities to celebrate culture and tradition. The carnival continues to attract an extremely diverse crowd and is seen by many as an opportunity to enhance community spirit and embrace cultural diversity. Any recommendations made to the Carnival must be sensitive to this cultural significance.

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