A video posted on Facebook shows a campaigner demanding the police shut down Covid-19 vaccine centres and claiming there is a “live criminal investigation” into the Covid-19 vaccine programme. She also claims that vaccines have led to “catastrophic death and injury figures” and police have the immediate power to “seize” vaccines as “evidence” of criminality.
The video, filmed at Market Harborough police station in Leicestershire, records a conversation between a constable and a member of the public making the complaint about the vaccine programme. Leicestershire police confirmed to Full Fact that the video is genuine. However, many of the claims made in the video are not true.
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There is no criminal investigation into the Covid-19 vaccine programme
During the video, the campaigner claims that Covid-19 vaccinations are “under criminal investigation”.
We’ve seen lots of examples of this false claim recently circulating on social media, including recordings of phone calls to police stations.
However, there hasn’t been and still is no criminal investigation.
As we wrote in a previous fact check, a crime reference number was generated when campaigners visited a police station in Hammersmith, London, in December, to submit documents which they claimed support allegations of criminality in relation to the vaccine programme. However, the creation of that crime reference number does not mean a criminal investigation is underway.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police confirmed to Full Fact that, while an assessment of the documents provided by campaigners is ongoing, currently there is “nothing to indicate that a crime has been committed and no criminal investigation has been launched”.
Vaccines have not caused “catastrophic death and injury figures”
The campaigner in the video also claims the UK vaccination programme has caused “catastrophic death and injury figures to both adults and children” across the country.
As of 19 January 2022, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has received 439,578 Yellow Card reports of adverse reactions to Covid-19 vaccines licensed in the UK, including 1,972 reports of deaths. In this same time period, more than 52 million people in the UK have received a first dose of a vaccine.
However adverse events (including deaths) which occur after vaccination do not necessarily occur because of it. The MHRA states: “The nature of Yellow Card reporting means that reported events are not always proven side effects. Some events may have happened anyway, regardless of vaccination. This is particularly the case when millions of people are vaccinated, and especially when most vaccines are being given to the most elderly people and people who have underlying illness.”
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said that while the overall benefits of the vaccines “outweighs the extremely rare adverse events”, following reports of blood clots after use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, it has advised the use of an alternative vaccine for adults aged under 30 without underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19.
The MHRA has also received reports (including eight associated deaths) of myocarditis and pericarditis (inflammatory heart conditions) following vaccination, although the majority of cases are said to be mild and extremely rare.
We have previously written about how the risks of myocarditis and blood clotting appear to be higher after infection than vaccination.
‘Inconceivable’ that police would use Criminal Law Act to stop vaccine roll-out
The campaigner in the video later claims that under Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967, if police attend a Covid-19 vaccine centre they must “gather evidence and seize the weapon, which in this case is vaccine vials” and “assist us in the closure of all vaccines centres within your jurisdiction”.
Section 3 of The Criminal Law Act 1967 states: “A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large.”
Criminal barrister Harry O’Sullivan of Goldsmith Chambers told Full Fact that this section confers the power to exercise reasonable force in making an arrest, either by the police or in the form of a citizen’s arrest. However, for a citizen’s arrest the citizen must believe the arrest is for a serious offence and necessary to prevent injury, loss, damage, or escape before police attend, and that it isn't practical for police to make the arrest.
He said: “It is most often cited by police officers who are forced to physically restrain or tackle a suspect in order to detain them.
“The section does not provide for any power to close premises, or otherwise affect rights over private or public places, or the services being offered in them.”
Mr O’Sullivan added: “Far from a requirement to close the centres, it doesn't even create a power to do so. Police can obviously arrest in a wider range of circumstances than civilians, but again, there appears to be no evidence of criminality here.
“Police do have some limited powers to issue "closure notices", usually in respect of licensed premises like pubs, but also private places, for a variety of reasons, like anti-social behaviour, but it is inconceivable that these lawfully could be used to prohibit government vaccination programmes.”
The International Criminal Court has only acknowledged documents it received
The campaigner in the video also claims that complaints about the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out have been acknowledged by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Any individual or group from anywhere in the world can send information on alleged crimes to the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor.
A letter sent from The Hague on 6 December 2021 does include an acknowledgement of correspondence.
However, it also states: “Please note this acknowledgement letter does not mean an investigation has been opened, nor that an investigation will be opened by the Office of the Prosecutor.”
A spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court confirmed to Full Fact the letter was genuine and, as a matter of process, the materials submitted would be analysed.
The spokesperson added: “The first step of that process is to assess whether the communication concerns matters that are manifestly outside the jurisdiction of the Court. As a general matter, to date, the Office has dismissed Covid-related communications as manifestly outside the Court’s jurisdiction.
“The Office informs the senders of communications about its decisions concerning next steps, if any, and provides reasons for those decisions.”
Image courtesy of lsc21, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0