Whether it’s depression, the Grenfell Tower disaster, or fish fingers, Stormzy always seems to get things right. For a modern music star, he is refreshingly unafraid to give his opinion, and call things as he sees it – perhaps it’s a luxury of his independence from the major label network, although, of course, that’s part of the reason he is where he is today.
And he’s done it again today, by calling out a truly bizarre tweet from the Met Police, who posted this on Tuesday morning:
On first glance, a standard police tweet, announcing a bit of drugs discovery; the boys in blue keeping our streets clean and scoring a result in that ongoing, hugely successful, definitely working war against drugs.
But then you stop to think about it.
What has this got to do with the Notting Hill Carnival?
Heroin, that well-known party drug. Yeah, the crowds will definitely be lapping up the smack to get themselves in a fun-loving mood this weekend won’t they?
And Catford? It’s nowhere near Notting Hill. Just look at a map.
No, this is a very strange tweet. Just what could be behind it, really?
Well, Stormzy wasn’t afraid to say exactly what he thought.
While people were quick to point out that actually, yes, there were big checks on people going in to Glastonbury and no, the Metropolitan Police don’t cover Somerset, the point still stands: why this apparent attempt to link the Notting Hill carnival, an important and valued celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture, to the use of drugs that are almost certainly nothing to do with it?
While last year saw over 450 arrests and five people being hurt in four knife attacks, the commander in charge of policing carnival, David Musker, said that the number of arrests had been inflated by the new Psychoactive Substances Act brought in early last year. It is widely acknowledged to be one of the safest carnivals in the world.
The Met revealed this morning that more than 300 people have been arrested already as part of an operation to prevent crime at the carnival; 190 knives and 18 firearms have been recovered, with the force saying that it was "committed to ensuring that Carnival remains a safe, vibrant and enjoyable event".
The force said some of those arrested might be bailed but would have conditions imposed on them prohibiting them from attending the carnival. "Today's operation is aimed at ensuring that those who intend to cause trouble at Carnival are prohibited from doing so," Ch Supt Robyn Williams said.
Obviously we all want a safe and trouble-free carnival, but the linking of seemingly unconnected drug hauls is not necessarily the best way to keep people supporting those aims. A kilo of heroin found an hour from, and a week before, Glastonbury, would be highly unlikely to be connected to the festival in such an explicit manner, so why does the Notting Hill Carnival get this treatment? It’s a reasonable question to ask.
Stormzy previously called out London minister Greg Hands for suggesting that Carnival be moved following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, tweeting: "Look at this scumbag tryna using the Grenfell tragedy for their ‘get rid of carnival’ agenda. We ain’t buying it mate.”
He also had his own run-in with the Met after officers broke down the door of his home shortly after he’d moved in. He tweeted: "Woke up to Feds destroying my front door coz apparently I'm a burglar who burgles his own home. @metpoliceuk need your bank details still."
When later asked if he thought the incident was racially-motivated, he said: "I'm not too sure. I'm new to the area."