A surge of illegal U.K. raves flouting COVID-19 restrictions last year not only drew comparisons to the Second Summer of Love of 1989, but pressure from authorities as well. According to an investigation, however, Home Secretary Priti Patel shared incorrect data when justifying lawmaker response to the public.
Writing for Mixmag, Wil Crisp cites an August 28th, 2020 article in The Telegraph as Patel’s primary vehicle of misinformation. She wrote that “In London alone, the Metropolitan Police has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events” by June, and that they received “information on more than 200 events across the city in a single weekend.”
According to information gathered under the Freedom of Information Act, Patel was in fact referring to the number of communications about illegal raves recorded on The Met’s Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. A former police officer reportedly told Mixmag that one event could be associated with “large numbers of CAD messages.” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D’Orsi revealed as much in a July 2020 BBC interview.
The Economist, Sky News, The Evening Standard, The Express, The Times, and Manchester Evening News are among the media outlets that published the incorrect figure.
The Met reportedly apologized in a statement emailed to Mixmag, admitting that the figure she used correlated to the number of “pieces of information about events in the capital.” It declined to provide information that could point to the correct number of raves.