- London has been facing increased street violence and stabbings.
- British police named drill music as a cause of the rising street violence.
- YouTube has removed more than 30 drill music videos at the police’s request.
YouTube has removed more than 30 music videos after police singled them out as a cause of rising street violence in London.
The video platform took down the videos, which were all examples of “drill” music, at the behest of Britain’s Metropolitan Police.
Drill is a style of trap music that originated in Chicago’s South Side and became popular in south London. Many of its lyrics reference gang rivalries in London and drug-dealing, and appears to glamorise violent street crime.
Mike West, a detective superintendent at the Met, said in a statement sent to Business Insider:
“The gangs try to outrival each other with the filming and content – what looks like a music video can actually contain explicit language with gangs threatening each other.
“There are gestures of violence, with hand signals suggesting they are firing weapons and graphic descriptions of what they would do to each other.”
West also said the Met has a central database of more than 1,400 such videos that it uses to gather intelligence, and that authorities only ask Google to remove videos “which we believe raise the risk of violence.”
He added: “Where we can, we will take action against individuals appearing in them.”
A YouTube spokesman also told Business Insider in a statement: “Along with others in the UK, we share the deep concern about this issue and do not want our platform used to incite violence.”
The company has policies specifically to help the UK tackle knife and gang crime. It also collaborates with police to determine which videos carry specific threats.
YouTube’s video purge comes as London is caught up in a street crime epidemic. Last month, five teenagers and one man were stabbed within 90 minutes of each other in the British capital.
It’s not clear whether the videos have been permanently or temporarily removed.
Pressplay, a UK company that promotes drill music, said in an Instagram post last week that some of its videos that were taken down “will probably be back up in the next few weeks.”
Drill artists have previously denied the link between their music and real-life street violence in London.
DJ Bembah told BBC Radio 4 last month, as cited by the Independent: “[Drill] is just real-life content, you talk about things that happen from day to day. Music can affect your emotions, but it can’t affect what you do outside. It can’t make you go outside and stab someone.”
Although in this case it has erred on the side of removing content, YouTube has also been criticised for not taking enough videos down.
The NSPCC, Britain’s highest-profile children’s charity, published a league table earlier this month accusing YouTube of being one of the “riskiest sites” when it comes to content involving suicide, violence, bullying, sex, and other adult themes.