Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Police criticised for posting too many ‘frightening images of knives’

Waltham Forest Police tweeted more pictures of knives in one year than almost all other borough accounts, reports Victoria Munro Waltham Forest Police have [...]

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The last photo of knives shared by Waltham Forest Police’s borough-wide Twitter (WF MPS)
By Waltham Forest Echo 12 October 2021

Waltham Forest Police tweeted more pictures of knives in one year than almost all other borough accounts, reports Victoria Munro

Waltham Forest Police have been criticised for sharing too many photos of knives and potentially scaring young people into arming themselves.

London Assembly member Caroline Russell found that, in one year, Waltham Forest Police shared 50 photos of knives on its borough-wide Twitter account, the second highest figure in London.

The borough account last posted a photo of knives on 30th September, while smaller accounts for specific wards semi-regularly share pictures of weapons seized by officers.

However, some fear that sharing such images may frighten young people and inspire them to arm themselves for protection.

Caroline Russell, from the Green Party, said: “If we are going to tackle the horror of knife crime on our streets, showing scary knives, which may encourage people to carry bigger and more dangerous blades, is not the way to go.

“Hearing young people… talking about feeling the need to “upgrade their tools” on seeing these images for the first time on social media suggests the Met needs a serious rethink.”

In October last year, Sheffield Hallam University announced a study on the effect of these images on young people, after police forces in South Yorkshire and Thames Valley decided to stop using them.

Responding to Caroline Russell’s criticism, Waltham Forest Police said they were “very aware of the ongoing debate” and look forward to the results of the study to “inform [their] approach”.

In a statement, a police spokesperson added: “We [share these images] to highlight the work of our officers and successful results and to reassure communities that the Met is committed to targeting those carrying weapons and fuelling violence on the streets.

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

“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 inform our approach moving forward.”