Knife crime pub­lic­ity could fuel ‘arms race’

The Sunday Telegraph - - Crime - By Steve Bird

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.

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