Government’s anti-knife chicken boxes criticised for being a ‘crude, offensive and harmful gimmick’
Young people will be warned of the dangers of carrying a knife on specially branded chicken shop boxes
The Home Office scheme aims to deter young people from getting involved in knife crime
The Home Office has been accused of pedalling racial stereotypes in a “crude” and “offensive” plan to cover fried chicken packaging with anti-knife crime slogans. Young people will be warned of the dangers of carrying a knife on specially branded chicken shop boxes as part of the Government’s #knifefree campaign.
Following backlash over the campaign, the Government said it was an evidence-based project and Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would “not apologise” for “communicating tragic consequences of carrying a knife”.
But her opposition counterpart Diane Abbott and fellow Labour MP David Lammy dismissed the strategy as a harmful gimmick and called on the Government to properly invest in communities to tackle violent crime.
Campaigners and members of the public also reacted with anger to the scheme, posting online that it was an example of “institutional racism”.
Chicken box warnings
Diane Abbott criticised the scheme and called for investment in communities
The chicken boxes are being introduced nationwide following a partnership with Morley’s earlier in the year. The packaging will include warnings and real life positive stories of young people who have chosen activities like boxing or music instead of carrying a knife.
More than 300,000 boxes will be distributed in independent and branch owned chicken shops, including Morley’s, Chicken Cottage and Dixy Chicken.
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said the food containers will “bring home to thousands of young people the tragic consequences of carrying a knife”.
He also said the government was “doing everything it can to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives”.
Mr Lammy accused the Home Office of “using taxpayers’ money to sponsor an age old trope”.
“This ridiculous stunt is either embarrassingly lazy or, at best, unfathomably stupid,” he said. “I know it might cost a bit more time and effort, but I would love it if you would announce a program of investment in our local communities instead of spending five minutes on a harmful gimmick.”
“Instead of investing in a public health approach to violent crime, the Home Office have opted for yet another crude, offensive and probably expensive campaign. They would do better to invest in our communities not demonise them,” Ms Abbott added.
Ms Patel hit back and said her Labour counter was “playing politics with knife crime”.
“I will do everything in my power to stop it traumatising communities – recruiting 20k officers, empowering police to stop & search, communicating tragic consequences of carrying a knife. I will not apologise for that,” she said.
A Home Office spokeswoman said the scheme was being rolled out following the success of the initial pilot. She said it was done after “substantial research” into the best way of targeting young people and was part of a wider awareness campaign.
The Home Office announcement said the campaign aimed to change “attitudes and behaviours of young people” and “empower [them] with the belief that there is a way out of knife crime”.
The announcement comes after the Government rolled back restrictions placed on police on the use of stop-and-search tactics which means officers can search anyone in a designated area “without needing serious grounds for suspicion if serious violence is anticipated”.