Knife arches trialled by police at McDonald’s restaurants across London

Knife arches could be rolled out at McDonald’s across London after successful police trials at restaurants in parts of the capital.

The fast food giant has been working with police teams in Croydon and Woolwich to trial the initiative in recent months.

It comes as the capital is currently being gripped by a knife crime epidemic with sixteen people, including six teenagers, stabbed to death in London already this year. 

Police say it is not about highlighting a particular problem with McDonald’s but identifying the restaurant as one popular destination for young people.

​In Croydon, the knife arch, which detects metal as people walk through it, was set up temporarily in the restaurant’s doorway for two hour periods.

It was manned by a team of around six police officers, on hand to distribute leaflets, offer advice and confiscate weapons.

And Croydon Borough Commander Jeff Boothe told the Standard the scheme had been a “success”, with plans underway to introduce the idea across the capital.

Chief Superintendent Boothe said the aim of the police initiative is to go to places where young people congregate to educate them about the issue of knife crime and its dangers.

It forms part of Scotland Yard’s Operation Sceptre tackling knife crime, in addition to Croydon’s longer-term children and young people plan, he said.

A spokesman from McDonald’s said: “As a responsible member of our local community we are working very closely with the local Police Safer Neighbourhood teams to help tackle knife crime in these areas.”

Which McDonald’s have had knife arches?


North End, Croydon

Powis Street, Woolwich

The weapons detector was placed in Croydon’s North End branch of McDonald’s on November 22 and December 23.

The restaurant sits just metres away from where 17-year-old Aren Mali was stabbed to death in October last year.

It was intended to discourage young people from carrying knives and Ch Supt Boothe said the arch received positive feedback from the public and local businesses.

Woolwich Riverside Police has run three operations with temporary knife arches in McDonald’s (Woolwich Riverside Police)

He said: “It was a preventative scheme to educate young people about the dangers of knives and that it is an offence. A number of young people weren’t aware.

“We had a lot of interest from the public, who said that they felt reassured and that we were doing stuff proactively.”

He added: “There isn’t an issue with McDonald’s but we recognised a high congregation of young people there.

“We knew that we needed to do something, so we ran an operation there.

“You have to think about how to engage them [young people].”

Ch Supt Boothe added that the scheme had been a success “so far” based on feedback received from young people, the public and local businesses.

The team has since been invited to expand the idea into a longer three-week operation in the town centre to educate young people, which began on February 12.

On Thursday, knife arches were set up at entry points to shopping areas within the town centre – these being another popular spot for young people to congregate.

And the borough commander said schools in the area are getting more involved in the operation.

He said: “Schools at first were wary of these operations for fear of their negative impact. But that has now turned, so schools and parents are saying ‘It’s great’. People are recognising there is an issue and getting more proactively involved.”

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A similar scheme has also been trialled three times in branches of McDonald’s in Greenwich, by Woolwich Riverside’s local policing team.

Most recently, police made three arrests after the weapons detector was installed in Powis Street McDonald’s on Wednesday.

It followed operations on January 15 and 23, where officers conducted stop and searches.

Woolwich Riverside wrote in a tweet last month: “Woolwich Riverside Officers have been working in partnership with #McDonalds today in an anti-knife campaign. A knife arch was implemented as a condition of entry to dissuade the carrying of knives. Stop and searches conducted by the team. #StopKnifeCrime”

The scheme could soon be rolled out across London, Ch Supt Boothe confirmed, but talks are “ongoing”.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “All Londoners need to know that it is simply not acceptable to carry a knife – you are putting yourself and others at risk – and you will be caught and face the full force of the law.

“We are doing everything we can from City Hall to tackle the scourge of knife crime. Last week I announced new funding for 1,000 additional police officers and also a new £45m Young Londoners Fund to provide alternative paths away from crime.

“However, knife crime is rising across the UK, not just here in London – this is a national problem that requires national solutions. Londoners need the Government’s help if we are to beat it.”

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