Jiving police officers are a classic image of Notting Hill Carnival, but this year one constable stole the show. More than 250,000 people watched an online clip of a policeman getting down to Nicki Minaj on Carnival Sunday, while an MC shouted: ‘You must be an undercover raver!’ It was soon revealed that the bopping bobby was PC Dan Graham of the Met Police, and that he had previously made an appearance on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. So we gave him a call to find out more.
Hi, Dan! Have you always been a good mover?
‘Yeah, I danced as a hobby before I started the job, but I didn’t make much of it until a light-hearted video I’d made went viral. That led to my audition for “Britain’s Got Talent”, and it went well – I got to the semi-final!’
What were you doing at Carnival, apart from getting down?
‘I’m based at Kingston police station and I went up to Notting Hill as part of the engagement team. We go around chatting to the organisers and any partners or stakeholders within the community, liaising with everyone to make sure that everything’s okay. We do what we can to ease any tensions or help with any problems.’
Did you expect you might end up busting a move?
‘I had a feeling that someone might recognise me from “Britain’s Got Talent”, and then it was more than likely that they would ask me to dance. So I had an inkling that it might happen. There were 9,000 cops there, but they still managed to pick me out!’
How exactly did you end up raving?
‘We were checking on one of the biggest soundsystems, Rampage. We were in the cordoned-off area so I had a bit of space, and I was standing at the side, watching the crowd, having a good time, when a song came on that I quite liked. So I did a little nod and a sidestep. The crowd nearest me started making a bit of a scene, then the MC spotted it as well, and that was that.’
Relations at Carnival between police and the public aren’t always brilliant. Does dancing help?
‘I’ve always wanted to try and break down those barriers: to change perceptions and ease tensions. I don’t think I could have done much better than that. Given the type of crowd that goes to Carnival – young, lively – and the fact there’s alcohol and loud music, it can get quite hostile at times. But that particular scenario seemed to work really well: there was no hostility whatsoever. It created a really good vibe.’
So do you think more police officers should try getting funky?
‘It needs to be done right. I don’t expect every officer to just be dancing around: you need to use your common sense and work out if it’s an appropriate time to show a bit of a human side to the police. But I do think expressing yourself in a way that people can relate to always makes it easier to deal with the public. It makes them feel like they’ve got something in common with you.’