LONDON -- Some 50,000 people saw in the new year at Trafalgar Square Saturday night amid extra security precautions taken to prevent a repeat of a fatal stampede a year ago.
Last New Year's Eve two women were killed and 193 injured in a panicking crush to get out of the famous square.
'We're trying to keep a delicate balance between revelry and safety,' a Scotland Yard spokesman said. He said the emphasis was on 'firm but friendly' crowd control.
More than 50 people were arrested, mostly for public drunkenness, and about 20 others were slightly injured in the celebration. Otherwise, most of the more than 1,000 police officers had little to do but join in the festivities.
An electronic noticeboard set up to flash information to the celebrating crowd and avoid panic was blank much of the time. At midnight the board wished revelers, 'Happy new year from the metropolitan police.'
Police blocked the surrounding streets to traffic, but officers stationed at crush barriers did not turn away any pedestrians making their way to the square.
The extra police patrols followed a busy Christmas for police on guard against IRA bomb attacks. A car bomb blew up outside Harrods store Dec. 17, killing six people and injuring 94. On Christmas day a bomb exploded in a waste bin outside Selfridges store, injuring two.