Response to new research to examine impact of knife images

Green London Assembly member Caroline Russell has responded to the announcement of new research on the impact of images of knives on Metropolitan Police Service and borough social media accounts [1]:

At last. I welcome this research into the issue of harm caused to young Londoners by images of terrifying knives seized by the Met and shared on Police Twitter accounts which Greens on the London Assembly have been raising since 2017 [2].

“My recent research showed over 2,000 images were posted by @metpoliceuk and Met borough Twitter accounts in just a year. [3]

“Young people in the Mayor’s own Violence Reduction Unit, which posted no images of knives in comparison, are understandably concerned that these images of frightening blades on social media contribute to a sense of fear in communities and can prompt people to “tool up”.

“What further proof does the Mayor need that young people are worried about this?

“The Assembly recently voted unanimously, cross-party, in support of my call that the Mayor must ask the Met to pause sharing images of scary knives on police social media accounts [4]. It’s crucial to the lives of young Londoners that he acts urgently on this.”

[1] New research to examine impact of images of knives on social media
10 January 2022:…

[2] Sian Berry challenged the Met Commissioner Cressida Dick in December 2017 about images of ‘zombie’ knives being used in presentations to primary schools by officers.

[3] News from Caroline Russell: Met share more than two thousand images of knives in a year
29 September 2021:…

[4] Assembly urges Met to stop sharing knife images
02 December 2021:…

Study launched to explore impact of knife crime images on young people,…

Caroline’s letter to the Mayor…

Tweet from Caroline Russell about the event

The University of Strathclyde and Scottish VRU pre-print study ‘Are images of seized knives an effective crime deterrent? A comparative thematic analysis of young people’s views within the Scottish context’

Caroline’s own recent research found that from July 2020 to August 2021 the MPS circulated more than 2,100 images of knives on Twitter which is made up of:

15 from the main Met account
16 from Firearms
82 from Roads Policing
229 from the Met Taskforce
612 from Met borough accounts
and the ward team accounts shared 1,200 in total
View the image of the map here…

Three leading charities in London working on crime prevention, Hope Collective, Ben Kinsella Trust and Dwaynamics, shared only two knife images between them in the same period. Hope Collective (0 knife images shared), Ben Kinsella Trust (1 background image of a teaching class) and Dwaynamics (1 knife in a tube from police ridealong.)

Greens in the London Assembly have repeatedly challenged the sharing of knife images by police, including in schools. Prior questions to the Mayor on this topic

The Guardian: Met police tweets may encourage young people to carry knives, research finds, 4 Oct 2021:…

BBC News: Knife Crime: Should police post pictures of knives online? 3 October 2021: