For weeks, anti-vaxxers in the UK have pinned their hopes on one clear strategy: to pressure police into advancing a supposed criminal investigation that they believed would find that the COVID jab is illegal.
However, the Metropolitan Police have now shot down that notion conclusively – saying that an assessment of the “evidence” submitted by anti-vaxxers to support the case had found that no criminal offences were apparent.
“The Metropolitan Police will not be launching a criminal investigation and no further action will be taken in relation to the allegations,” the force said in a statement on Tuesday night.
But rather than prompting them to drop their campaign, many anti-vaxxers are responding to the police statement by doubling down on the delusional notion that there’s a conspiracy against them, claiming it’s now proof that the police are corrupt. Some, livid at the Met statement, are claiming that they must now take matters into their own hands and launch more extreme action against the authorities.
In a conspiracist Telegram channel dedicated to advancing the non-existent criminal investigation, news of the police statement was met with fury. Users accused the police of “blatant corruption,” labelled them Freemasons, and spewed fantasies of violent retaliation.
“I hope that [every] officer who’s rejected this gets hung from a lamppost,” wrote one user. “Let’s get these cunts.”
“Execution for them ALL is the only answer,” wrote one, while another threatened: “They will ‘get theirs’ in the end.”
One woman disagreed with a complaint that there weren’t enough firearms in the UK to sustain a violent uprising, saying she lived in Norfolk where “every farm will have a full armoury.”
“I’ll have to get tooled up on my next visit,” replied another user.
The so-called “crime number” campaign has become a cause célèbre within the COVID conspiracist movement since a group of activists registered a complaint at London’s Hammersmith police station on December the 20th, claiming that the vaccine rollout was criminal.
Police issued the crime reference number (CRN) “6029679/21” in response – a standard move acknowledging the receipt of the complaint. However members of the group promoted the CRN as evidence that a massive criminal investigation into the jab was underway.
A large campaign sprang up to submit evidence in support of the investigation, while radical groups cited the CRN as justification for their attempts to forcibly shut down vaccine clinics, falsely claiming that the supposed investigation meant that they were crime scenes.
Police have consistently denied any investigation has been launched, saying they were simply assessing the evidence. But Tuesday’s statement, which included comments from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors condemning the misinformation surrounding the CRN and the disruptive protests linked to it at vaccination centres, appeared to finally resonate throughout the movement.
Analysts told VICE World News that the overall tone of the response to the police statement was typical of the conspiracist mindset. Rather than accepting that they had been misled by those pushing the “crime number” narrative, they interpreted the police denial instead as evidence that the conspiracy against them ran even deeper than they’d feared.
“It is a clear demonstration of the dynamics of conspiracy movements, continuously refining and adapting narratives to support their central claim and wider worldview, despite definitive evidence stating the contrary,” said Ciarán O’Connor, an analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue who monitors COVID misinformation.
“In this instance, the Met’s statement has been interpreted in some quarters as evidence of a cover up that goes right to the top, or evidence of supposed censorship by elites against the police – all completely illusory.”
Jordan Wildon, an open-source intelligence analyst at Logically, a tech company that combats online disinformation, agreed.
"To most anti-COVID-vaccine conspiracists who claim to be doing ‘their own research,’ the actual facts of the matter aren’t sufficient. They need an explanation that justifies their worldview.”
The “crime number” narrative had provided one, and now anti-vaxxers were turning to the people who had pushed that misinformation for answers, he said.
O’Connor said that it appeared that the leaders of the crime number crusade seemed “intent on continuing this campaign in some form.”
On the Telegram group dedicated to the crime number campaign, the group admin posted that a statement would be coming in the next day or two from PJH Law, a law firm whose
principal solicitor was one of the group who filed the original police complaint.
The admin posted a message, apparently reflecting the views of the leaders of the “crime number” campaign, that accused the Met of failing to take into account key evidence submitted towards the investigation. This included engaging with figures the conspiracy movement deemed to be key whistleblowers, and urging supporters to continue submitting evidence of supposed COVID crimes to the police.
“Regardless of the poor decision made by the Metropolitan Police, crimes are still being committed, and the police have a duty to investigate each one on an individual basis,” read the post.
“Keep going, nothing’s changed, we stop the vaccines and protect our children.”
Indications so far were that the conspiracy movement would respond to the police’s debunking of their crime number fantasy with only greater radicalisation, said Wildon.
“One influencer… has declared that the community is ‘now at war’ and another has encouraged followers to make complaints to the Met for ‘perverting the course of justice’,” he said.
In a video posted to Telegram earlier this week, the same radical anti-vaxxer, Simon Parry, had claimed that he had told police that if they didn’t arrest senior politicians and health officials as a result of the supposed investigation, the alleged suspects were “getting killed, simple as that.”
Wildon said: “While talk of the crime number might cease to be part of the narrative, it now has the chance to evolve into further distrust of any and all authority.”