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Government’s latest knife crime initiative “wrong.”

JANUARY 13, 2020

The campaign to brand chicken shop take away boxes with #knifefree has been launched by the Home Office in response to the rising levels of knife crime. The boxes will replace packaging in chains such as Morley’s, Chicken Cottage and Dixy Chicken and will be printed with real stories from young people who have chosen to stop carrying knives.

Politicians and youth sector leaders have been united in condemnation of campaign that prints true stories of people affected by knife crime inside the lids of chicken shop boxes with Labour MP David Lammy and Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott labelling the initiative “racist” and “offensive” suggesting that the campaign relies on stereotypes about chicken shops, often frequented by black and ethnic minority youths.   

Maddie Dinwoodie, deputy chief executive at UK Youth, said: "Tackling serious violence needs a multi-agency approach that tackles the root of the problem and is developed in partnership with young people."

She said part of the solution should be providing young people with access to youth services in local communities, support from trusted adults and 'positive activities'.

"There are a diminishing number of local safe places to engage with young people, but chicken shops are not the solution," said Dinwoodie.

Siobhan Endean, Unite National Officer for the Community, Youth and Not for Profit Sector said “The government are way of the mark with this one and it really does demonstrate just how little investment is being put into youth policy. Government has again got it so very wrong and it is totally unacceptable for them to spend money on PR stunts when youth services have been so heavily hit by austerity.”

"This investment should be used to help young people overcome challenges in their lives, to fund the youth centres and services which provide the kind of youth work activities highlighted in this campaign but which have been devastated by Government funding cuts."

"Funding for youth services has decreased year on year and there are now hundreds of youth centres closed and thousands of professionally qualified youth workers out of work. We are seeing the results of 10 years of austerity and it is young people caught in the middle. The more unequal a society becomes the more alienated young people become. Alongside the chronic underfunding of local government services, cuts increase poverty and inequality and have contributed to the rise in knife crime that we have seen across the country."

“Messages on chicken take-out boxes will not tackle knife crime and youth violence. Government must wake up to the vital contribution that youth work can make to the lives of young people. More government investment is needed in education for young people about knife crime, healthy relationships, and exploitation, as well as in early intervention and prevention.”

“It must invest in young people not in gimmicks. We need investment in youth services, providing young people with safe spaces and professionally trained youth workers that they can go to and seek guidance. We need a statutory youth service, with ring fenced funding so that young people have access to a universal youth offer.”

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