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Met police tweets may encourage young people to carry knives, research finds

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Met police tweets may encourage young people to carry knives, research finds

Young people may be nudged into carrying knives by the police, research has found, as a new count showed the Metropolitan police circulated more than 2,100 images of seized knives on Twitter in a year.

In the same period, three leading violent-crime prevention charities – Hope Collective, the Ben Kinsella Trust and Dwaynamics – circulated two images of knives between them, according to research by the Green party in the London assembly.

“It’s deeply worrying to see police sharing such frightening images of knives when the charities involved in reducing knife harm don’t do this at all,” said Caroline Russell, a Green party assembly member who sits on London’s police and crime committee. “The disparity of approach is staggering, with the mayor’s own violence reduction unit sharing no images of dangerous knives.”

According to the Greens, between July 2020 and August 2021, images of knives were published 612 times by Met borough accounts, 229 times by the Met taskforce, 82 times by the roads and transport command, 16 times by the firearms command and 15 times by the main Metropolitan Police Service account.

Based on the average number of knife images posted by a sample of ward accounts from various boroughs, they estimated that local policing teams published a total of 1,176 images of knives.

There has been a long-running debate around sharing images of weapons on social media. The Met says it publishes pictures of seized weapons to reassure the public that its officers are committed to tackling violent criminals.

“We aim to include images of our officers in action showing the breadth of policing, alongside any images of weapons,” a spokesperson said. “This is not always possible. We always include wording which explicitly discourages weapon carrying and violence to accompany any imagery.”

Critics have said the images contribute to a sense that the carrying of weapons is widespread. At a youth violence summit in London, an adviser to the city’s violence reduction unit said photos of blades could prompt young people to consider “upgrading tools”.

That assessment seems to be backed by research published as a pre-print this month that suggests knife seizure images “potentially encourage knife-carrying”. Young people in Glasgow shown images of seized knives told researchers led by the University of Strathclyde that they thought the pictures contributed to a climate of fear and perpetuated negative stereotypes of certain groups and areas – although all said they were personally opposed to knife-carrying.

Dr Charlotte Coleman, a psychologist at Sheffield Hallam University who was involved in the study, said the researchers questioned young people in high- and low-crime areas. “For those young people that were living in high-crime areas, they felt quite stigmatised by the volume of knife imagery that was flooding their area,” she said.

Such images had the potential to frighten susceptible young people into carrying knives for self-defence, but equally others could be excited by them, prompting them to carry a knife because they thought doing so was “cool”, Coleman said.

Regarding the Met’s use of images of seized knives, she said: “I find it concerning that so many images are used. It’s not just the 2,100 times that they are posted by the police, because they are posted and reposted. So, actually, the exposure becomes amplified by the number of shares.” People more worried or excited by knives were more likely to share, she suggested.

There was a 31% year-on-year fall in knife offences recorded in London in the year to March. But an increase in the severity of attacks in early 2021 led to a rise in the number of killings by a quarter, and police have warned London could be on track for its worst year of young homicides since 2008.

A Met spokesperson said: “The Met is an evidence-driven organisation, and that extends to the way in which we communicate with Londoners. We look forward to the results of this research being published in the coming months, which will help inform our approach moving forward.”

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Health

AIDS Agency Chief Says 1 Out Of 100 Persons Positive In Kaduna

The Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Aids Control Agency (KADSACA), Dr Isa Baka has said a survey had revealed that one out of 100 people is positive to the AIDS disease in the state.

Baka disclosed this speaking shortly after a walk in commemoration of the World AIDS Day, on Thursday in Kaduna.

The theme of the year’s’ World AIDS Day is “Equalise to End AIDS: Equal Access to Treatment and Prevention Services’’.

He said the present statistics was a remarkable development against previous survey which gave 11 of every 100 people in the state.

Baka added that the AIDS prevalence in Kaduna, which is at 1.1, being a survey carried out by the state government itself, was later done at the national level, where that of Kaduna was confirmed as very accurate.

“At the national level, the prevalence of the virus (AIDS) was at 1.4 (four people out of 100 test positive), while that of Kaduna is confirmed to be 1.1, was in determination of the state government and KADSACA’s efforts to ensure minimal prevalence of the virus,” he said.

He said as part of efforts to continue reducing the prevalence of AIDS in the state, government initiated programmes across the 23 LGAs.

He said one of the UNICEF anchored programmes, which is the ‘Adolescent and Youths Living With HIV and AIDS’ programme, was present and effective in at least, 18 LGAs and 24 sites in the state.

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Health

Malawi Commences Large Scale Malaria Vaccination- First In The World

Malawi has commenced large-scale vaccination of children against malaria.

This is the first large-scale malaria vaccination campaign since the World Health Organisation (WHO) endorsed the widespread use of the RTS,S/AS01 (RTS,S) malaria vaccine in October 2021.

The endorsement followed a two-year vaccination programme, which involved more than 800,000 children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Recommended for children from five months of age to around 18 months, the vaccine  has an efficacy of 39 percent.

The first phase of the vaccination in Malawi is expected to cover 11 of the country’s 28 districts.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the WHO in Malawi said the expansion of access to the malaria vaccine will enable more children at risk of malaria to benefit from an additional prevention tool.

“Malawi has expanded access to the first malaria vaccine! The expansion of the RTS,S Malaria vaccine, into the 11 districts that participated in the malaria vaccine implementation program (MVIP) has been launched today. The vaccine offers a glimmer hope for Malawi,” WHO wrote.

Michael Kayange, Malawi’s national malaria control programme manager, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa that although the vaccine has low efficacy, “in malaria control, there is no single intervention that does it all”.

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Nigeria Yet To Attain 70% Covid-19 Vaccination Coverage- NPHCDA

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that Nigeria is yet to achieve 70 percent coverage for COVID-19 vaccination.

Faisal Shuaib, executive director of NPHCDA, said on Tuesday that as of November 25, a total of 56,790,371 eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated while 12,492,646 are partially vaccinated in 36 states and the FCT.

“We are 21.6 million eligible persons away from reaching its target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its eligible population by December 2022,” he said.

“But 62 percent of the country’s eligible population is at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The country has fully vaccinated half of the total population eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.

“We have also fully vaccinated an additional over 25 percent of its eligible population, in the last 110 days of SCALES 3.0 implementation.”

The executive director said 13.2 percent of fully vaccinated persons in the country have received the COVID-19 booster dose for additional protection against the virus.

He commended the COVID-19 strategy group for achieving 50 percent vaccination coverage in the country and promised that the momentum would be sustained.

Shuaib said he has also directed the team to intensify efforts toward the attainment of herd immunity.

“Until this is achieved, the strategy group will continue to develop strategies that will help the country achieve health security,” he said.

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