Police officers told to stop sharing knife images on social media

The head of a police unit credited with cutting Scotland’s murder rate has called on officers to stop sharing images of seized knives on social media.

Police forces routinely share images of seized weapons on social media
Police forces routinely share images of seized weapons on social media

Niven Rennie, director of the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), said the practice had reached “epidemic proportions” and could be undermining attempts to defeat knife violence.

More than 100 people have been killed in the UK so far this year, with stabbings the largest single cause of death.

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Mr Rennie tweeted that he “could not see any benefit” of the pictures after officers in the London borough of Haringey released images of a “Rambo” knife taken off a robbery suspect.

He tweeted: “The distribution of these pictures has reached epidemic proportions – where are the police leaders to say ‘stop’ – my belief is they are self-defeating, surely others can see that too?”

London recently set up its own VRU after officers from the Metropolitan Police travelled to Glasgow to see the work being done.

Set up in 2005 by Strathclyde Police, the VRU took a 2002 World Health Organisation report on violence and health and an anti-gang initiative first piloted on the streets of Boston in the 1990s as its starting points.

It has taken much of the credit for figures showing that between 2007/8 and 2016/17, the number of homicide cases nationwide fell by 47 per cent, with Glasgow responsible for a third of the overall decrease.

Responding to Mr Rennie’s comments on Twitter, Calum Steele, of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “Police officers have every right to highlight the realities and dangers of what they face to try to sway public and political mood to ensure they are safe and properly resourced to face them.”