THE Home Office is facing a huge social media backlash after announcing a scheme to reduce knife crime using messages printed on fried chicken boxes.

The scheme, announced on Twitter, will be rolled out across more than 200 chicken shops in England and Wales.

It involves the #knifefree hashtag, as well as personal accounts of young people, being printed on chicken shop boxes.

They will replace packaging at chain chicken shops including Morley’s, Chicken Cottage and Dixy Chicken. Many of the participating shops will also have accompanying screens showing films promoting the campaign.

Announcing the initiative on social media, the Home Office said: “We are rolling out our #KnifeFree chicken boxes in over 210 chicken shops in England and Wales, including Morley’s, Dixy Chicken and Chicken Cottage. They use real life stories to show people how they can go #KnifeFree.”

The post has been met with a furious backlash, with many social media users accusing the Home Office of racial stereotyping.

Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “Is this some kind of joke?! Why have you chosen chicken shops? What's next, #KnifeFree watermelons?”

Hundreds of Twitter users joined criticism of the initiative. One said: “This just shows how disconnected you are from today’s youth .... a chicken box to try get your message across very stereotypical approach.”

Another added: “Good afternoon & welcome to 2019 Britain, where we're currently all stuck in an episode of Brass Eye.”

The chicken box initiative is part of a wider anti-knife crime programme by the UK Government.

It will include street teams visiting convenience stores, hair salons and barber shops as well as places of worship and community centres across London, Manchester and Birmingham.

UK Policing minister Kit Malthouse, who unveiled the scheme, said it would help combat “senseless violence”.

“These chicken boxes will bring home to thousands of young people the tragic consequences of carrying a knife and challenge the idea that it makes you safer,” he said.

“The government is doing everything it can to tackle the senseless violence that is traumatising communities and claiming too many young lives, including bolstering the police’s ranks with 20,000 new police officers on our streets.”