The Home Office has been branded “crude” and “offensive” over an attempt to tackle knife crime with the distribution of #knifefree boxes to chicken shops.
More than 321,000 chicken boxes featuring the Home Office campaign have been sent to more than 210 outlets in England and Wales.
The boxes, which will replace standard packaging in chains such as Morley’s, Chicken Cottage and Dixy Chicken, are printed with real life stories of young people who have chosen to no longer carry a knife.
Policing minister Kit Malthouse claimed the boxes will “bring home to thousands of young people the tragic consequences of carrying a knife and challenge the idea that it makes you safer”.
“The government is doing everything it can to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives, including bolstering the police’s ranks with 20,000 new police officers on our streets,” he added.
But the initiative has prompted a backlash and drawn accusations of racism.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “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.”
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. https://t.co/dGZBo3IypV
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) August 14, 2019
Her fellow Labour MP David Lammy told The Guardian: “The Home Office is using taxpayers’ money to sponsor an age-old trope.
“Boris Johnson has already called black people ‘piccaninnies with watermelon smiles’.
“Now his government is pushing the stereotype that black people love fried chicken.
“This ridiculous stunt is either explicitly racist or, at best, unfathomably stupid.
“I know it might cost a bit more time, effort and money, but I would love it if you would announce a programme of investment in our local communities instead of spending five minutes on a harmful gimmick.”