Police “frightening” knife fire encourages young people to carry knives, warns London politician
Met police should stop sharing photos of knives, a prominent London MP has warned, as it may encourage young people to carry guns.
The warning comes after a 16-year-old boy became the 30th teenager to be stabbed to death in the capital in 2021 last week.
The grim milestone marks the highest total since the records began in 2003. On Tuesday January 4, a man in his forties was stabbed to death in Yiewsley, Hillingdon.
READ MORE: Teenager charged with murder of 16-year-old boy in West Drayton
Andrew Boff, a Conservative politician and Speaker of the London Assembly, told MyLondon that the Met Police’s current approaches to deterring knife crime are not working.
The member of the Conservative Assembly calls on the force to stop publishing photos of “stabbing” and seizures of weapons in the capital.
He said: “People try so hard to talk about knife crime to show the world that we are fighting it – by pasting pictures of knives.
“The ads for knives should definitely drop.
“It’s more about public authorities saying ‘look how we’re doing.’
“One thing that would make me want to do something is if there was a poster telling me not to do it.”
Mr. Boff worked for a youth center in Hackney.
He told MyLondon: “The good kids around London Fields came out ‘equipped’ because they felt they had to stand up for themselves.
The warning over the Met images follows Matt Parr, HM’s police inspector, telling a London Assembly session last month that the images of knives – including photos of machetes and Police “zombie knives” – suggest to young people that they need to “level up”. [their] tools”.
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The London Assembly passed a Green Party-backed motion last month demanding that the Met stop sharing images of knives on its social media.
Patrick Green, CEO of the youth charity The Ben Kinsella Trust, added that they never use pictures of knives, which only “scare” young people to wear.
He told the assembly police committee: “We have to reassure the young people … While the adults will see [knife seizure pics] as a sign that Met is working hard, children see them differently.
“They see that ‘near my house this knife has been found’. For some young people, this means that I have to extend my protection ”
Mr Boff added that he supported a “public health” approach to tackling knife crime, treating it as a societal problem.
A Met Police spokesperson told MyLondon the force aimed to include images of weapons to show “officers in action.”
But the spokesperson added: “We are very aware of the ongoing debate around sharing weapon images on social media.
“We are carefully reviewing the publication of all our information on all platforms, including images containing weapons. We do this to recognize the work of our officers and the positive results in reassuring communities that the Met is committed to targeting those who carry guns and fuel violence on the streets. “
“We always include language that explicitly discourages the carrying of weapons and violence to accompany any imagery.”
Several universities and violence reduction units are researching the effect of knife images on social media.
The Met said it was monitoring the research.
While the number of knife offenses – including possession – fell in London in 2020/21, the number of teenage homicides using knives has increased.
London continues to have the highest levels of knife crime in the country.
Have you been affected by knife crime in London? How should it be approached? Contact us: [email protected]