Britain has an epidemic of knife crime. Last year, the police recorded the highest level of knife-crime offences (just below 45,000) in England and Wales since records began.
And the biased stop-and-search method in place isn’t working; the capital has experienced a rise in stabbings since 2012 and the Home Office’s own research has found that even during phases of heightened stop and searches, there was "no discernible crime-reducing effects".
So it was high time the Home Office thought outside the box…
But, unsurprisingly, isolating chicken shops as a medium to dissuade young people from carrying weapons didn’t resonate.
Figures from mayor of London Sadiq Khan revealed that three-quarters of the city's boroughs with the highest levels of violent offending are also in the top 10 most deprived, so reaching out to this demographic is understandable.
However, there is no link between fried chicken and crime, and by not targeting a variety of areas within deprived communities, such as bus shelters and budget gyms, the campaign isolates black youths and plays on old tropes against ethnic minorities.
The racially insensitive campaign is also patronising, revealing just how elite and out of touch the government is, and raises questions about the diversity of the team behind the idea. The chicken boxes don’t tangibly help anyone susceptible to knife crime overcome adversities in their lives.
The money behind this campaign would have been better spent by investing in deprived areas, on youth clubs, schools, support groups, outreach programmes and opportunities that help young people escape the poverty cycle.
Instead of intruding on people’s dinner while pushing a racist stereotype, the government needs to seriously address the root causes of youth violence.
Brand Home Office
Agency FCB Inferno and All City Media Solutions