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24 July 2009
The Event at Southwark Park will have to change to survive, following the stabbing that prematurely ended this year's festival, borough police Commander Wayne Chance has said.
The annual celebration, which has been trouble-free for years, was marred when a Bermondsey schoolboy was stabbed in the face and neck with a bottle.
The attack forced the festival to shut down at just before 8pm, as police, event organisers and Southwark Council decided it could not proceed.
But it appears the much loved event, which has been running for twelve years, must adapt if the police are to give it a thumbs up to happen next year. The council has also said this week that The Event will be reviewed in the autumn.
Commander Chance said: "There are some things we need to be satisfied with if it is to go ahead. It appears that the problems were caused by youths who wanted to go to an event in Lewisham and were turned away."
He added: "At Southwark Park you can control access and we can make use of that, but we never had it. The actions of a few people this year could mean a few more restrictions next year."
Commander Chance told the 'News' he was happy with the amount of officers he had on the day. In addition to the stabbing, eight wardens were assaulted and four received injuries.
He admitted Lewisham police had failed to notify his officers that they were turning away groups of youths, and they only discovered this information when officers at The Event were stopping people in Southwark Park.
A review will also take place of the alcohol provision at the festivities: "I have a real issue about the amount of alcohol there and I would rather that it be viewed as a family day. We will look at this and other things, like people being served beer in glasses."
Although generally happy with the policing on the day, he also claimed that officers were not always given the support they required: "Not all Bermondsey residents behaved the way we wanted them too. There were people there who should not have been there, but the actions of some did nothing to calm the situation down."
As well as The Event, others will also be reviewed, with Carnaval Del Pueblo, which is due to take place in Burgess Park on August 2, the next major festival to be looked at in terms of crowd control.
A council spokesman said: "We were very saddened by the incident that took place at The Event, which not only
involved a serious stabbing, but in which seven council staff were also assaulted.
“The council is planning to review every aspect of the event with all the relevant organisations that were involved.
“We still have a full programme of events to concentrate on over the coming months, and we will take stock of our plans for The Event next year later in the autumn."
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