That picture people are saying shows the army in Clapham Junction is actually of students

19th Mar 2020

A widely shared image on social media of people dressed in military fatigues walking through Clapham Junction claims to be proof that the government is locking down the area or London more widely because of the new coronavirus. 

This is not what the picture shows. The people pictured are not troops but are students at a military preparation college (MPC) based at a nearby Army Reserve Centre

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed to Full Fact that those in the picture were not soldiers, nor was it connected to Covid-19, and there were no orders to deploy to the streets yet. 

The MoD and the Army Reserve Centre said the people photographed were students at the military preparation college.  

The college—MPC Battersea—confirmed to Full Fact it was their students. They had been on a military away day, which included an outdoor military lesson, when they were photographed.

An MPC is a training college for 16-19 year-olds that focuses on developing fitness, vocational qualifications and employability skills to help prepare for future employment, including careers in the British Armed Forces. 

The latest Covid-19 update from the MoD, published 19 March, says an additional 10,000 military personnel will be put at a higher readiness (that’s alongside the 10,000 who are already held at readiness) and reserves will be put on standby to support public services as part of a new Covid Support Force. However, that is not what is shown in this picture.