London’s Metropolitan Police Force is appealing to the public to report “hate crime related to the Covid-19 pandemic”.
“A hate crime is when someone commits a crime against you because of your disability, gender, identity, race, or sexual orientation, religion, or any other actual or perceived difference,” intoned an officer identified as “Constable Paul” in the video message the Met shared to social media.
“It doesn’t just mean physical violence,” he assured potential hate reporters. “Someone using offensive language towards you, or harassing you because of who you are, or who they think you are, is also a crime,” he suggested.
Keen to remind viewers that London’s police officers are not only concerned with offensive behaviour face to face, Constable Paul went on to note “someone posting abusive ot offensive messages about you online” as another example of a hate crime.
He appeared to be at pains to maximise his police force’s “hate crime” workload, telling viewers: “You might want to shrug it off if it happens to you, but if you tell us then we can investigate and stop it from getting worse, for you or someone else. Even if you’re not sure if it’s a crime or not, you should report it so we can investigate.”
The police force’s efforts to solicit hate crime reports at this time may seem curious to some, given predictions that the country’s lockdown measures could in time lead to unrest among some elements of the populace, and that the coronavirus could slash the force’s manpower by as much as a quarter due to sickness and self-isolation requirements.
Police in Bristol got a small taste of these potential issues within hours of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s initial announcement of lockdown measures, with “youths” who were told to disperse by officers reacting by throwing missiles at them and torching two food delivery vans.