Sadiq Khan has said he hopes that the Metropolitan Police will “change their stance” on sharing images of seized knives on social media as research suggests it may be harmful.

Other police forces in England, including South Yorkshire Police and Thames Valley Police, have already taken the decision to stop sharing images of offensive weapons seized by officers over fears that it makes the public “more worried” about knife crime.

The issue was raised in City Hall on Thursday by Green Party Assembly Member Caroline Russell, who revealed that the Met has shared more than 2,100 images of “terrifying” knives, such as zombie knives, across its various Twitter accounts in the past year.

London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) – set up by Sadiq Khan in 2019 – does not share images of seized weapons following consultations with young people that revealed that doing so can “heighten the sense of fear” in communities.

But the mayor is being pushed to use his position as Police and Crime Commissioner to call for the Met to change its practices around sharing knife images on social media.

Speaking at City Hall, Sadiq Khan said: “I recognise there is a debate around images of knives and dangerous weapons seized by the police being published on social media. The VRU listens to and is a voice for young people in London. I believe that listening to the views of young people is critical to understanding what has an impact on their perceptions and their behaviours.

“The VRU has listened to the views and opinions of young people.

“Those young people have made it clear that posting images of knives seized by the police often heightens the sense of fear in communities, particularly among young people.”

But Mr Khan added that “there is a view that posting images on social media is an opportunity to highlight the work that [police] are doing to tackle violence in London”.

Further research on the issue – including studies from Sheffield Hallam University and University College London – is expected to be published soon, which Mr Khan has said will “help to inform” the Met’s approach to sharing images of knives on social media.

But Caroline Russell has said that there “are better ways to show the work that the Met are doing on reducing knife violence”.

While the Sheffield Hallam study is examining how images on social media can shape perceptions on the level of knife crime, the UCL study is looking into whether the sharing of images can “backfire” and potentially lead to the young becoming “more likely to carry knives”.

Following Sadiq Khan’s response in City Hall, Caroline Russell said: “The Mayor says he wants to wait until research about the effect of knife images is released, but Assembly Members, young people, knife harm charities and academics have all been calling for this harmful practice to end.

“The harm is already clear. The Mayor must use his influence as Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, to pause the sharing of images of knives on social media from MPS accounts until the research is published and a final decision can be made.”

Patrick Green, CEO of anti-knife crime charity The Ben Kinsella Trust, has said that the Met’s important work in taking knives of the streets must not be “compromised” by sharing images “that are known to induce fear amongst young people”.