Analysis of Metropolitan Police Advert Knife City Coursework

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English Media Coursework: Knife City

Knife crime incidents in Britain have been growing rapidly and it has been showed in statistics that it has doubled in the past 2 years: from 25,500 in 2005 to 64,000 in the year to April 2007. These figures mean that each day last year saw, on average, 175 robberies at knife point in England and Wales; showing it soared from 110 the year before and 69 in 2004-5. This study was made by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) at King’s College London and is based on the government’s own statistics. Knife crime has proven to be a considerable problem amongst young people, as they see carrying a knife as a way of glorifying themselves amongst their peers.

Norman Brennan, chairman of the Victims of Crime Trust and a serving police officer, claimed that teenagers now “picked up knives as routinely as they would a mobile phone”. This is perhaps one of the most shocking pieces of information of all; the idea that knife crime has become so bad that it is beginning to become a way of life for youths is simply disgusting. He then demanded that the Government heeded his notion of mandatory five-year sentences for knife crimes and stop “pussy footing” around.

I believe that a reason for the escalation in knife crime is the whole theory of moral panic. “Knife City” can well be described as a response to this, it can clearly be explained in 3 stages:

  1. Occurrence and signification: An event occurs and, because of its nature, the media decide that it should be dramatically broadcasted.
  2. Wider social implications: A connection is made between one event and society as a whole. After the initial event the story is aided by the words of expert opinion makers, who establish that this one event is just plays a minor part of an overall pattern that constitutes an extensive social threat.
  3. Social control: The moral panic gains some sort of resolution, often a change of the law or anything designed in order to penalise and threaten those established to be the menacing deviants causing the panic. In this case “Knife City” was made to target youths.

The Metropolitan Police produced and launched the “Knife City” advert in 2005, an innovative way of broadcasting the danger of knife crime among the young; in the form of a mock computer game demo that blends cutting-edge computer generated images (CGI) with real life footage. The advertisement, in the fashion of DVD, was first distributed throughout London by street teams from radio stations Kiss 100 and Choice FM who were working in partnership with Police. It documents a “hero” called “Jay”, who when confronted by a group of youths in the CGI urban environment, produces a knife for protection and after a struggle, stabs another character. As soon as the knife enters the victim, with the exception of Jay, the imagery switches to filmed footage, with the youth lying injured on the ground. Jay is arrested and transported to a police station, where he is placed in a cell. As the enormity of the situation he has got himself into bears down upon him, Jay begins to change from a CGI character into a real person. The demo then concludes by displaying the message; “Carrying a knife, it’s not a game”.

The estate in which the whole advert is based in is very crime ridden. For example, the first view of the estate is shown in a wide shot that displays a square estate with a central square “garden”, the roads that border this and a very urban skyline, which sets the scene. Half of the area is in shade due to the high buildings and no one can be seen apart from two people in shade in the central square garden, which puts across the implicates that drug dealing is taking place. Furthermore, the fact that no one is out suggests that it is dangerous for the community to leave their homes. The shadowing of half of the estate suggests that it is dark for a reason; the whole of the estate gives off a very depressed and neglected feel because of the dull colours and it seems that a lot of illegal things can occur in the shaded part with absolutely no consequences. This contrasts to the lifestyle shown in “GTA” where it seems that the crime that takes place has become a way of life and must be dealt with; people are not scared to leave their homes as the crime has become so bad and a part of life that most people are involved in it.

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The medium shot when the journey through the city takes place is very reminiscent of a game and tell us more about the area that is on show. The camera shot is of the rear of our “hero” Jay as he runs through the estate and it is almost as if we are tracking him as he makes his journey to his destination, almost as if in game. At this point, a life bar, fist and knife icons appear on screen, furthering the game-like feel but show that as a game you can always start again, only to later ...

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