UK Home Secretary Priti Patel used false data about the number of illegal raves taking place to justify increased police powers during the coronavirus lockdown, according to a new report by Mixmag.
The revelations date back to 28th August 2020, when Patel introduced new legislation to bolster the ability of police forces to combat crime, citing a need to curb Unlicensed Music Events (UMEs) in a bid to cut transmission of COVID-19 and safeguard public health.
Publishing an article in The Telegraph, the senior cabinet minister said: “In London alone, the Metropolitan Police has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events – such as big raves and parties – since the end of June, receiving information on more than 200 events across the city in a single weekend.
“We will not allow this breathtakingly selfish behaviour from a senseless minority to jeopardise the progress we have made together... That is why we are cracking down on the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions."
A Freedom of Information request has now shown the numbers could be drastically inflated due to flawed methodology in how the data was collected. Rather than basing the details on how many individual UMEs were actually discovered, the figures relate to the number of individual complaints police received relating to illegal raves. This means a single free party could generate tens or even hundreds of reports to the Computer Aided Dispatch [CAD] systems used by law enforcement.
The Metropolitan Police Force has since removed a press release from its website containing the incorrect information, which can still be viewed online, and has issued a statement in response: "We may have received several calls by several different members of the public when in fact it is only one incident with several CAD messages."
Unlicensed Music Events have been a regular focus of media attention throughout the pandemic, and many believe this contributed to elevated fears around the safety of all music events during the crisis. In December, the Night Time Industries Association warned millions could be preparing to attend illegal parties in the UK for New Year's Eve. Concerns have also been raised around the actions of police at raves, with one investigation launched after a woman was attacked by a police dog at a Halloween event in Bristol.