MIL-OSI UK Cities: News from Caroline Russell: Met share more than two thousand images of knives in a year

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Source: London Assembly

More than 2,100 images of knives were shared in one year by Met police Twitter accounts, compared to zero from the Mayor’s own Violence Reduction Unit from 2020-21, research from Caroline Russell has found.     

Met borough accounts shared more than 600 images of knives, with Enfield (57) and Waltham Forest (50) sharing the highest of the 32 boroughs. 

The Violent Crime Taskforce, a central Met account that specialises in stop and search, and the Roads and Transport Police Command shared many more (229 and 82 respectively). 

By comparison, three leading charities in London working on crime prevention, Hope Collective, Ben Kinsella Trust and Dwaynamics, shared only two knife images between them in the same period. [1]     

Caroline Russell AM is calling for an end to the publication of images of knives by the Met police on social media due to the potential harm that exposure could cause. 

Greens in the London Assembly have repeatedly challenged the sharing of knife images by police, including in schools. [2] 

Young people such as Tyrell David Douglin, a member of the Young Person’s Action Group at the London Violence Reduction Unit, said recently at the London Summit on tackling violence that photos of blades can prompt young people to consider “upgrading tools”. [3]  

Caroline Russell says: 

It’s deeply worrying to see police sharing such frightening images of knives when the charities involved in reducing knife harm don’t do this at all. 

“The disparity of approach is staggering, with the Mayor’s own Violence Reduction Unit sharing no images of dangerous knives, in contrast with the Met sharing thousands. 

“If we are going to tackle the horror of knife crime on our streets, showing scary knives which may encourage people to carry bigger and more dangerous blades is not the way to go. 

“Hearing young people, who are the largest users of social media, talking about feeling the need to “upgrade their tools” on seeing these images for the first time on social media suggests the Met need a serious rethink.

Sheffield Hallam University announced in October 2020 that they were conducting a study to explore the impact of knife crime images on young people. The research follows the decision from South Yorkshire Police and Thames Valley Police deciding to avoid showing such images. [4] 

Sian Berry challenged the Met Commissioner Cressida Dick in December 2017 about images of ‘zombie’ knives being used in presentations to primary schools by officers. [5]  

Caroline has also asked a written question to the Mayor this month about a recent knife crime intervention at a school where a display box of dangerous knives was on show. [6] 

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