London Assembly member renews criticism of Met over sharing images of knives

A London assembly member has slammed the Metropolitan Police for sharing images of knives on its social media pages, which new research indicates may “encourage knife carrying”.

Green party member Caroline Russell has asked the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to step in and stop the Met from posting images of recovered knives on its individual social media profiles as she claims it creates a “culture of fear” – leading to more people carrying knives.

Ms Russell renewed her criticism of the Met following new research released by the University of Strathclyde on whether the images of seized knives work as an effective crime deterrent.

The research found the posts “may provoke negative reactions and create a culture of fear as exacerbated by the media… and perpetuate negative stereotypes and preconceived beliefs about who is likely to carry a knife”.

Ms Russell said she conducted her own research into the matter and found that between July 2020 and August 2021, the Met circulated more than 2,100 images of knives on Twitter from its main account, borough and ward accounts, and other connected accounts.

Ms Russell said: “Young people, knife harm charities, assembly members cross party and academics have all been calling for the Met to stop sharing images of terrifying knives on social media. We now have academic evidence to back this call.  

“Rather than tackling knife violence, we now know this practice is creating a culture of fear and perpetuating negative stereotypes which harm young people and the communities they live in.”

Example of a tweet about knives from a Met account

A Met spokeswoman said: “We welcome the ongoing debate around the sharing of images of knives by police on social media. While some believe it is necessary to show them, others feel it may encourage some to carry knives.

“The number one priority of the Metropolitan Police is tackling violence in all its forms and taking potentially lethal weapons off the streets is central to this mission.

“We believe that, used appropriately, images of knives and similar weapons highlights the seriousness of the challenge and how we are tackling it.

“There are several ongoing academic studies examining the potential impact of the publication of these images. We are waiting for their findings before considering any change in our procedures.”

Picture: Caroline Russell AM, Green Party (Picture: Chris King)




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