Quick service restaurants specializing in fried chicken in the U.K., or “chicken shops” as they are locally known, have been the subject of some bad press of late, but a new U.K. government partnership has seen them recruited into the fight against knife crime.

As part of the initiative, standard packaging in both independent and branch-owned chicken shops is being replaced with government-supplied boxes that warn fried chicken purchasers of the danger of carrying a knife, and it is hoped that the packaging may go some way to reducing crime associated with certain customer groups frequenting this type of outlet.

More than 321,000 boxes featuring the U.K. Home Office #knifefree campaign have already been distributed to over 210 outlets in England and Wales, following an initial trial with 40-store Morley’s, which claims to have the “best fried chicken in London.” It has now been extended to other outlets including Chicken Cottage and Dixy Chicken.

Morley’s managing director, Shan Selvendran, commented that the company wanted to promote being knife free by using custom boxes to deliver the message and start conversations with all its customers.

Cutting knife carrying

Knife crime has become a growing problem in the U.K. In 2017-2018, there were 285 killings with one in four victims aged 18-24, and the custom boxes are specifically targeted at this younger age group. The boxes are printed with real life stories of young people who have chosen to pursue activities such as boxing or music, instead of carrying a knife.

Many of the participating chicken outlets will also have screens showing the #knifecrime campaign.

However, the move has not been universally welcomed, with some politicians describing the #knifefree campaign as “cruelly pointless.”

But some positive news for chicken shops is to be welcomed, and this is not the first time that they have hit the headlines in the U.K. this month. The new term “chicken shop grooming” appeared in press articles a few weeks back, along with “chicken shop gangs,” which, reportedly, lure school children into drug dealing with the promise of free food. While there was no suggestion that shop owners were engaged in the activity, this latest more positive press can do chicken shops no harm.