New investigation finds that data on illegal raves used by Home Secretary to justify emergency police powers was incorrect

Image by Wil Crisp & Karla Hunter

A new investigation by Wil Crisp for Mixmag has revealed that the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel justified granting emergency powers to police forces on illegal raves based off incorrect data provided by the Met Police during the first wave of the pandemic. 

The information used by Patel was based on a flawed system of calculating statistics used by the Met Police to identify and crack down on illegal parties and gatherings. Based on the resulting numbers, Patel claimed to The Telegraph “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.” These claims were then further broadcast nationally and internationally via outlets such as The Times, Sky News, and The Economist. The latter published an article titled, Why raves are enjoying a revival: Britons are partying like it’s 1988.

Using the Freedom of Information Act to his advantage, Crisp discovered that rather than relating to individual events, the figures reported by Patel instead alluded to the number of messages received about a possible illegal event on the police’s dispatch system. This means that hundreds of messages could have been about a single event, which was then counted multiple times to arrive at Patel’s figures. It is also highly likely that a number of legal parties were misreported as illegal raves, further inflating the numbers. 

The highly inflated numbers potentially played a large factor in the public opinion that music venues and the nightlife sector were largely to blame for increasing case numbers or super-spreader events, an opinion which proved potentially fatal for the industry during lockdown as it lobbied for better support from the government. Following his findings, the Met Police issued an apology to Mixmag and Crisp

Read the full report in Mixmag here.