Politicians and campaigners slam "explicitly racist" Home Office campaign

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

A new branding campaign released by the Home Office, aimed at reducing the rate of knife crime, has been heavily criticised for its offensive nature.

The #knifefree campaign will be rolled out across chicken shops in England and Wales - replacing the serving boxes with ones featuring real-life stories of people who chose pursuits like music and boxing, rather than carrying a knife.

210 outlets that sell fried chicken, including Morley’s, Dixy Chicken and Chicken Cottage, will replace their own boxes with the #knifefree ones - having already been visible at Wireless and Lovebox festivals this summer.

321,000 boxes in total will be replaced with the Home Office's - but the stunt, which seems to stereotype the kind of people who carry knives, has been roundly criticised.

David Lammy called it “an age-old trope.”

Speaking to the Guardian, he said: “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.

“It might cost a bit more time, effort and money, but I would love it if you would announce a programme of investment in our local communities instead of spending five minutes on a harmful gimmick.”

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Kit Malthouse, Policing Minister, 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.

“The government is doing everything it can to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives, including bolstering the police’s ranks with 20,000 new police officers on our streets.”

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