The government’s latest plan to tackle knife crime is getting a roasting

Fried chicken box with #knifefree branding
John Ranson

The Home Office has launched a new wheeze to tackle knife crime. Judging by the responses, though, it could be one of the worst ideas it’s ever had.

Certain fried chicken stores are replacing their usual packaging with special boxes. Bearing the hashtag #knifefree, the boxes also feature “real life stories to show people how they can go #KnifeFree”.


London-based writer George Luke spotted what might be going on, making reference to the racist stereotype that ‘Black people love fried chicken’:

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Gamer GonzoKRS went further, calling the scheme “racial profiling”, and drawing a comparison to the recent announcement about stop-and-search powers:

And Labour MP David Lammy suggested the campaign had more than a whiff of Boris Johnson about it, given that the prime minister has previously called Black people “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” (again, echoing racist imagery):

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, meanwhile, denounced the chicken box plan as “crude, offensive and probably expensive”. She also said the Home Office “would do better to invest in our communities not demonise them”.

Investment vs wasting money

Academic and former youth worker Adam Elliott-Cooper appeared on Sky News to discuss the chicken boxes. And he highlighted the background of Conservative cuts:

at a time when over 100 youth centres have been closed across London, this really is an insult to see these kinds of resources being put on chicken boxes instead of real, tangible youth services.

He then described how one of the stories on the boxes talks of a young man growing up with few opportunities. His message to the government was clear:

Well here’s an idea. Instead of writing a story about a young man who grows up in a community with not a lot of opportunities, and putting it on a chicken box, why not make more opportunities in those specific communities? Why not re-invest in those kinds of youth services that have been cut, why not invest in those kinds of mental health provisions that have been cut, why not invest in the educational maintenance allowance which has been scrapped?

And he finished by saying:

I think it’s a profound insult to these young people as well, when these opportunities are being taken away, that you’re putting a story about this lack of opportunities on the back of a chicken box.

Adam Elliott-Cooper on Home Office's knife crime chicken box ads

It's an insult that the government is putting resources into chicken boxes while cutting vital youth services.Adam Elliott-Coope on Sky News on the offensiveness of the Home Office plans to tackle knife crime via chicken boxes.

Posted by New Economy Organisers Network – NEON on Thursday, 15 August 2019

Featured image via Twitter – Home Office

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  • Show Comments
    1. I am happy to give anything a try so long as taxpayer funds are not diverted to unevaluated schemes. However, if this goes ahead, opportunity should be taken to include suggestions of alternatives to fried chicken,

    2. Johnson could use this carefully thought through initiative to promote ‘no deal’ Brexit too. He could promise that after a trade deal with the USA, a well-known US franchise for fried chicken will be enabled to purvey its product with ‘added value’, nutritional chlorine, at no extra cost to the customer.

    3. What a waste of time and money and how ironic that instead of spending the money it has cost in creating opportunities he talks about the lack of them instead. How wrong can you get on so many levels.

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