We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Gangs using social media from prison 'undermines' justice system

Social media is being used to perpetuate gang activity from within prison, a think tank has said.

A report by think tank Policy Exchange, Knife Crime in the Capital, has said convicted gangers members being freely able to post on social media “extends gang culture and the influence they hold over local communities beyond the time when their members are arrested and jailed”.

It featured a case study showing a photo posted on SnapChat of a group of gang members together in a cell in Pentonville Prison, and said their brazenness showed there is "no fear of retribution".

It added the use of social media from within prison and such “bold displays of prison gang activity have serious consequences for society”, claiming it “perpetuates a culture of intimidation” and “undermines faith in the entire criminal justice system”.

The report stated that in 2018 and 2019, at least a quarter of victims died in acts of retaliation and the wider audience reach enabled by social media reinforces the perceived need to carry weapons for protection.

This year Greater Manchester Police and the North West Regional and Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) seized a number of Wi-Fi routers, mobile phones and drugs following a significant uptick in "throw-overs" at one prison. 

The report went on to blame a wider “naïve societal acceptance of gang culture, making gangs more appealing and legitimising and perpetuating their existence” for the high levels of knife crime.

“Despite the attempts by the police and government to react to these changing trends that are aiding violent criminality, their efforts are being compounded by investment from the private sector into those who are perpetrating or encouraging the violence.”

It said actions by social media companies, big sports brands, and cultural institutions "enable and support" those directly involved in knife crime.

"This sends a signal to young people susceptible of being drawn into gangs that this lifestyle is acceptable and even desirable, minimising the repercussions for engaging in violent crime.”

It criticised Adidas for promoting convicted criminals after it did not retract an ad campaign featuring Headie One after he was imprisoned for carrying a knife in January.

It also said the hosting of criminal drill music artists by broadcasters perpetuated violence.

Drill music is a subgenre of rap, known for its violent and nihilistic lyrics. Some artists go further than providing a commentary on gang violence and use songs to make explicit threats to members of other groups.

It was revealed that drill rapper Jayden O’Neill-Crichlow was offered a £150,000 record deal while in prison awaiting trial for murder, for which he has now been given a life sentence.

Capital FM (formerly BBC) DJ Tim Westwood has since uploaded videos featuring O’Neill Crichlow which are still on his channel and have received more than 6.5 million views.

Meanwhile the number of criminal cases involving drill music has been “steadily on the rise”.

Analysis by Policy Exchange found that of the 41 gang related homicides in 2018, at least one third were directly related to drill music (where either the victim or perpetrator was an aspiring drill rapper, or drill music videos were used as evidence in the trial), up from 23 per cent in 2019.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, dismisses the impact of drill music on crime, stating in December 2019 in response to a question about the link between drill and crime that “there is no evidence to suggest that certain genres of music are directly responsible for criminal activity”.

The report recommended Ofcom should investigate broadcasters’ engagement with drill music and drill rappers and whether it represents a breach of Section 2 of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Codes.

“It is clear that we as society need to play a greater role in calling out the harmful legitimisation of gang culture and the violence that accompanies it,” it concluded.

Leave a Comment
View Comments 4
In Other News
Cleveland launches tender for crime reporting phone app
Met's 'overreliance' on stop search reason for high levels of knife crime
Knife crime: messaging can backfire, warns force lead
‘Identified learning’ from refused knife crime orders at start of pilot
More News