Plans by the Home Office to put knife crime stories on fried chicken boxes have been labelled “embarrassing," “stupid," and “racist."
More than 321,000 chicken boxes that feature the Government's #knifefree campaign have been distributed to over 210 outlets in England and Wales.
The insides of the boxes are printed with real life stories of young people who have chosen to pursue positive activities, such as boxing or music, instead of carrying a knife.
The boxes will replace the standard packaging at both independent and branched owned shops, including Morley's, Chicken Cottage, and Dixy Chicken
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse 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 traumatizing communities and claiming too many young lives, including bolstering the police's ranks with 20,000 new police officers on our streets."
However, the move has been criticized and branded an “embarrassment" and “ridiculous" as well as “borderline racist."
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbot tweeted: “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 demonize them."
TV and comedy writer James Felton said: “Honest to God, if the best idea you have to tackle knife crime is to write stuff on fried chicken you should quit power forever in embarrassment, not tweet it out proudly like you've just solved world hunger."
Another Twitter user added: “Spending some money funding community outreach projects, social workers, job opportunities and schools too much effort for you then?"
Twitter users criticized the campaign for “borderline racism," as fried chicken is an old mainstay in racist depictions of black people.
Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “Is this some kind of joke?! Why have you chosen chicken shops? What's next, #KnifeFree watermelons?"
Peter Grigg, director of external affairs at The Children's Society, said: “More government investment is needed in education for young people about knife crime, healthy relationships, and exploitation, as well as in early intervention and prevention, and ministers must urgently address the £3 billion shortfall facing council children's services departments by 2025.
“This investment should be used to help children overcome challenges in their lives which may leave them more susceptible to risks outside the home but also to fund the youth clubs and services which provide the kind of positive activities highlighted in this campaign but which have been devastated by Government funding cuts."