Covid-19, misinformation and conspiracy theories.
The emergence of a new coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is a natural occurrence that happens a few times each century and has a devastating effect on society. The global travel that we all enjoy has caused the 2020 outbreak to spread around the world at rapid speed. No-one is responsible for the outbreak.
Threats like these bring out the very best in humanity and the acts of courage and commitment from those who protect us has been heartwarming.
Unfortunately, such incidents also bring out the worst behaviour in others. Fear and hostility are never far apart and some lash out because they handle stress poorly. Sadly, there are also ideological extremists who will use the fear to divide our communities and demonise others.
The instigators of misinformation and conspiracy theories are small in number and they rely on their messages being forwarded by ordinary people. It is more likely you will receive these messages from your family or friends, than from an extremist directly.
We all have a responsibility to ensure that the information we share is helpful and accurate. If you are uncertain of your source, check it our before you create unnecessary fear. Try to tactfully correct misinformation and encourage others to remove false information.
Covid-19 related hate crime
We have unfortunately had reports that some people have committed hate crimes linked to the Covid-19 outbreak. The police, prosecutor's and the court have all made it clear that they will take such crimes very seriously.
Here is one example of a conviction that demonstrates how the criminal justice system will protect victims.
The following videos are produced by our colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Service but give information that is relevant to all communities about their rights to be protected from hate crime linked to Covid-19.