People are being urged people to avoid sharing ‘misinformation’ online, in order to help tackle the serious disorder which has been taking place in East Leicester.
Sarah Harrison, City Centre Director at Leicester City Council, has issued the appeal following the weekend’s disorder, which was carried out by groups of young people from the city’s Hindu and Muslim communities.
Police made 18 arrests on Sunday evening (September 18), bringing the total number of arrests to 47 since August 28, when tensions sparked up in the area following a cricket match between India and Pakistan.
“It’s worth noting that a significant proportion of those arrested on Sunday were not from Leicester but from Birmingham and London,” said Ms Harrison in a statement.
“We believe this disorder is not a reflection on community relations in our city – but that Leicester is being used a platform by others who are using misinformation on social media to fuel unrest.
“We would like to ask for your help in reducing tensions and countering misinformation by only sharing information that you know to be checked and true.”
Leicestershire Police’s temporary chief constable, Rob Nixon, said that social media had played a “significant role” in “fanning the flames of unrest” in the city.
“There are things on there being circulated, which are false,” he said, citing assaults of people and attacks on religious establishments as examples.
“Social media is being filled with fake news, which is being forwarded on – amplifying the problem and raising fear in communities.
“My plea is that please, if people are seeing information on social media, if they can’t validate it, please don’t circulate it.”
One man, Amos Noronha, of Illingworth Road, Leicester, who was arrested on Saturday night, has now been sentenced to 10 months in prison. On Monday morning (September 19) he pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon, telling Leicester Magistrates Court that he had been “influenced by social media,” in relation to events going on near to where he lived.
Although tensions have calmed so far this week, Leicestershire Police say that they will continue to use the powers available to them in order to keep the public safe, including dispersal orders and wider stop and search powers.
They have investigations underway in relation to criminal damage and disorder committed at the weekend and say they will continue to bring people to justice if they break the law.
You can report any incidents to Leicestershire Police by calling 101, or going online to report a crime at: https://www.leics.police.uk/reportcrime