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Offensive knife crime chicken boxes criticised online
Via Twitter @ukhomeoffice

The UK government launches a bizarre anti-knife crime chicken box campaign

The branding, which will appear in chicken shops like Morley’s, has been criticised as racist

The UK government is constantly missing the mark when it comes to tackling rising crime rates, banning drill music videos and social media in a misguided attempt to reduce knife crime. Now, parliament has announced its latest plan: redecorating takeaway chicken boxes.

Yesterday (August 14), the Home Office tweeted: “We are rolling out our #KnifeFree chicken boxes in over 210 chicken shops in England and Wales, including Morley’s, Dixy Chicken, and Chicken Cottage. They use real life stories to show people how they can go #KnifeFree.”

Over 321,000 black boxes with ‘#KnifeFree’ on the outside, and first-hand accounts of young people who chose ‘positive activities’ over carrying a knife printed on the inside, will reportedly replace standard packaging in chicken shops across the UK. 

The offensive plan has been widely criticised online, with a number of high profile MPs making statements. Speaking to the Guardian, Labour MP David Lammy expressed his dismay at the campaign: “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.”

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott also condemned the move, tweeting: “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.”

Explaining the reasoning behind the campaign, policing minister Kit Malthouse – who recently defended his backwards plan to increase stop-and-search operations – said: “These chicken 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”. 

According to the Evening Standard, the campaign was first launched in April after a 15-year-old boy was stabbed to death in Lewisham. Media agency All City Media Solutions is behind the chicken box campaign concept, which will now be expanded, following its first run four months ago. The agency’s website has also come under fire, as one Twitter user highlighted distasteful language used by the company, including ‘ethnics’.

With the detrimental ‘gang matrix’, and the fact that young black boys are more likely to be the target of violence, the government’s latest plan only serves to further stereotype and isolate black youths.