Met police tweets may encourage young people to carry knives, la ricerca trova

Young people may be nudged into carrying knives by the police, la ricerca ha trovato, as a new count showed the polizia metropolitana circulated more than 2,100 images of seized knives on Twitter in a year.

In the same period, three leading violent-crime prevention charities – Hope Collective, il Ben Kinsella Trust and Dwaynamics – circulated two images of knives between them, according to research by the Green party in the London assembly.

“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,” said Caroline Russell, a Green party assembly member who sits on London’s police and crime committee. “The disparity of approach is staggering, with the mayor’s own violence reduction unit sharing no images of dangerous knives.”

According to the Greens, between July 2020 and August 2021, images of knives were published 612 times by Met borough accounts, 229 times by the Met taskforce, 82 times by the roads and transport command, 16 times by the firearms command and 15 times by the main Metropolitan Polizia Service account.

Based on the average number of knife images posted by a sample of ward accounts from various boroughs, they estimated that local policing teams published a total of 1,176 images of knives.

There has been a long-running debate around sharing images of weapons on social media. The Met says it publishes pictures of seized weapons to reassure the public that its officers are committed to tackling violent criminals.

“We aim to include images of our officers in action showing the breadth of policing, alongside any images of weapons,” a spokesperson said. “This is not always possible. We always include wording which explicitly discourages weapon carrying and violence to accompany any imagery.”

Critics have said the images contribute to a sense that the carrying of weapons is widespread. At a youth violence summit in London, an adviser to the city’s violence reduction unit said photos of blades could prompt young people to consider “upgrading tools”.

That assessment seems to be backed by research published as a pre-print this month that suggests knife seizure images “potentially encourage knife-carrying”. Young people in Glasgow shown images of seized knives told researchers led by the University of Strathclyde that they thought the pictures contributed to a climate of fear and perpetuated negative stereotypes of certain groups and areas – although all said they were personally opposed to knife-carrying.

Dr Charlotte Coleman, a psychologist at Sheffield Hallam University who was involved in the study, said the researchers questioned young people in high- and low-crime areas. “For those young people that were living in high-crime areas, they felt quite stigmatised by the volume of knife imagery that was flooding their area," lei disse.

Such images had the potential to frighten susceptible young people into carrying knives for self-defence, but equally others could be excited by them, prompting them to carry a knife because they thought doing so was “cool”, Coleman said.

Regarding the Met’s use of images of seized knives, lei disse: “I find it concerning that so many images are used. It’s not just the 2,100 times that they are posted by the police, because they are posted and reposted. Così, in realtà, the exposure becomes amplified by the number of shares.” People more worried or excited by knives were more likely to share, she suggested.

C'era un 31% year-on-year fall in knife offences recorded in London in the year to March. But an increase in the severity of attacks in early 2021 led to a rise in the number of killings by a quarter, and police have warned London could be on track for its worst year of young homicides since 2008.

A Met spokesperson said: “The Met is an evidence-driven organisation, and that extends to the way in which we communicate with Londoners. We look forward to the results of this research being published in the coming months, which will help inform our approach moving forward.”

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