Busiest amnesty bin returns to Hackney

Amnesty Bin. Pic: Sam Quashie-Idun

A knife amnesty bin which collected as many as four blades a day is returning to the grounds of St John at Hackney church in Lower Clapton.

Dubbed the capital’s “busiest amnesty bin”, which at one time took 1,500 weapons a year, the metal box was removed because it was being broken into. However, it has been reinstated to make Hackney’s streets safer.

Its popularity is explained by its inconspicuous location behind the church where there is no CCTV and because it falls on the boundary of the E5, E8 and E9 postcodes where there is frequent gang activity.

Rector of the church,  Al Gordon said:  “As a church our priority is to play our part in bringing hope to the heart of Hackney. We are privileged to be able to serve this community in lots of ways and the knife bin is part of that.”

“In the past this bin has been one of the busiest in London, which reflects the times we live in. Our hope is that in a small way we can help to make the wonderful streets of Hackney a safer place for everybody.”

The amnesty bin initiative is run by charity, Word 4 Weapons which currently has over 30 bins located across London and the West Midlands all of which are located away from CCTV in order to encourage people to surrender knives.

With its motto “collecting knives, saving lives” the initiative has collected over 23,000 knives to date.

Michael Smith, CEO and founder of Word 4 Weapons, told ELL that the bins have been in Hackney since 2011. This was due to the “high volume of knife incidents in Hackney. There has been lots of knife crime, and people being shot and stabbed in the area.

“We hope people may change their thought processes. Some of the weapons are as a result of people no longer wishing to carry a knife,” Smith said.

Hackney has been the borough hardest hit by cuts to the Metropolitan police budget since 2010, suffering a drop in officer numbers of 24 per cent. Last year, crime in Hackney was up 6.4 per cent – nearly double the London average of 3.5 per cent.

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