Knife crime publicity could fuel ‘arms race’
POLICE campaigns showing zombie knives and machetes seized in weapon amnesties could be fuelling a climate of fear among teenagers, who believe they have to “tool up” to protect themselves, charities have warned.
Campaigners tackling gang violence are urging the Metropolitan Police and other forces to review how they publicise lethal weapons seizures.
While adults may feel reassured that such knives have been removed from the street, there is growing concern that photographs released by police are exacerbating young people’s fears about dangers that they face. It is thought such imagery shown on social media and then in the news could be contributing to the “arms race” between gangs.
The Metropolitan Police, which has seen 120 murders in London this year, has removed hundreds of weapons after conducting more than 21,000 weapons sweeps.
Patrick Green of the Ben Kinsella Trust, an organisation set up to educate youngsters about the perils of knife crime, said: “Police have to show knife amnesties are working but the challenge is to do so without inadvertently making the problem and the perception of the problem worse.”
Earlier this month, Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, announced a new Violence Reduction Unit to tackle the rise in knife attacks in the capital. It will receive support from its Scottish equivalent where knife crime has been cut dramatically among youngsters in Glasgow.
A briefing paper from the Scottish No Knives Better Lives has urged Scottish police and media not to use photographs of “large or unusual knives” because “this can make young people afraid thereby increase defensive knife carrying and contributing to the idea that knife carrying is the norm.”
It is understood that Police Scotland does not routinely publicise pictures of weapons seized.