Met Police requests to remove UK drill content from TikTok have reportedly increased 366 per cent since 2020.
The statistics were first accessed through new data obtained by DJ Mag via a Freedom of Information request and saw the impact that the Met had over online content containing drill music.
According to the figures, 64 per cent of TikTok content removal referrals from London’s Metropolitan Police were related to UK drill music during the 2022/23 financial year. It also reports that 89 per cent of Met Police content removal referrals on TikTok were related to UK drill in the year prior, and 100 per cent during the year preceding that.
Removal requests on the platform related to the genre have increased 366 per cent over the last three years.
This is due to the lyrical content of many songs in the genre, which have been accused of inciting violence, street crime or drug usage. The crackdown on UK drill also follows the report earlier this summer, which confirmed that music videos from UK drill artists can now be used as evidence in court.
This came after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced in June that music videos from the genre can be submitted as “admissible evidence for a jury to consider” if they can link gang-affiliated suspects to crimes.
Despite this, however, the Met have continued to assert that investigators do not target any specific genres in their work, and instead seek out threats of violence and other potential criminal activity.
“The Met works closely with social media platforms to identify content we believe could provoke or cause violence,” said a spokesperson for the Met (via DJ Mag). “Following our referral, the social media platforms make their own decision regarding removal of content.”
The impact of the censorship and removal requests have been criticised as hindering the opportunities for drill artists across the UK, and holding them back from achieving as much success as artists in other genres.
“TikTok is crucial for artist discovery and promotion,” manager and producer Kovani, told the outlet. “This [censorship] is just taking away another opportunity, allowing youths to turn to crime instead of focusing on their music career.”
“Being a part of the drill scene has given us the chance for personal growth and artistic expression,” he added, drawing reference to the huge success of ‘Sprinter’ by Dave and Central Cee, which held the number one spot in the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks.
Currently, The #drilluk hashtag has over 10.8 billion views on TikTok, and in a statement to the outlet, a representative from the social media platform said that TikTok will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and accept removal requests if the reported content also violates their Community Guidelines.
In other drill news, back in January the CPS announced that it was going to review its guidance on the use of drill lyrics as evidence against defendants in criminal trials.
Additionally, in July 2022 the CPS launched the first-ever Serious Violence, Organised Crime and Exploitation (SVOCE) unit to tackle gang-related homicides, drug-dealing and street crime. The unit has used lyrics from drill music as evidence in cases.
Back in 2020, however, NME criticised the associations with UK drill to violence. “Drill may sound negative on the surface, and that’s clearly down the difficult backgrounds that it’s based in. But these talented kids have gone from the streets to selling out the 02 Brixton, as north London’s Headie One did last November,” it read.
“Drill has taken them out of the ‘hoods and finally put legitimate money in their pockets. Poverty is punished in this country, and a lack of funds can often push a young person into criminality.”
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