Busiest knife amnesty bin in London returns to Lower Clapton’s St John at Hackney church

PUBLISHED: 12:26 26 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:35 26 January 2018

St John at Hackney rector Al Gordon at the reinstalled knife bin. Picture: Sam Gelder

St John at Hackney rector Al Gordon at the reinstalled knife bin. Picture: Sam Gelder


London’s busiest knife amnesty bin is back in place behind St John at Hackney church in Lower Clapton.

The last bin, which at one time took 1,500 weapons in a year, had been removed for some time because it was too old and people were trying to break into it.

Its popularity has been put down to the fact it is tucked away behind the church with no CCTV, and because it sits on the boundary of the E5, E8 and E9 postcodes, where there is heightened gang activity.

Rector Al Gordon says the church is happy to be able to do its bit in the fight against knife crime and revealed his predecessor Fr Rob Wickham had his cross made out of smelted knives.

“As a church our priority is to play our part in bringing hope to the heart of Hackney,” he said. “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.”

Michael Smith, of Word 4 Weapons, the charity that runs the amnesty bin project, said one of the reasons it had been such a success was the church’s work in promoting it.

“When we started doing this I was a serving police officer,” he told the Gazette. “I went to the churches because officers said that they would probably have a greater success. Who wants to take a weapon to a police station, you know?”

The bins are emptied every few months, and Michael said at the Hackney bin, during that period, anywhere between 250 and 450 weapons of all kinds could be recovered.

Ex gang member Gwenton Sloley, who now works with the authorities to keep youngsters away from a life of crime, is hoping churches and other places of worship in the borough can help in a different way.

“I have been speaking to the mayor about delivering multi-faith training in Hackney,” he said. “Most of these young people go to worship once a week with their families but throughout the week they are gangsters. The only place to engage with them and their parents is their place of worship.”

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