West Midlands Police will not use criminal behaviour orders to stop young people from making drill music – videos of which have been accused of glamorising knife crime in Coventry.
Chief Constable Dave Thompson said the force has no intention of using criminal behaviour orders to stop people performing the music while speaking at this week’s Strategic Policing and Crime Board.
The issue came under scrutiny in Coventry last year when Cllr Ed Ruane said drill music videos filmed in the city “glamorised” crime.
Two of the music videos filmed in Coventry were previously removed from the internet by police agreed they “glamorise violence and crime”.
But while the police force won’t be using behaviour orders to stop people making them, Ch Con Thompson admitted the music is sometimes used “as a means to deliver threats or intimidation”, adding that the police were looking to crack down on such uses.
A still from one of the drill music videos filmed in Coventry
Drill music has been described as “a menacing, often lyrically violent subset of British rap”, and has been linked with criminal activity and gangs in the past.
Earlier this year two 21-year-olds were charged with breaching a gang injunction order after a video of them performing a drill song, which police say incites violence, was posted to social media, in the first case of its kind.
Proponents of the art form have criticised its demonisation by certain sectors of society, with several claiming that banning performance of drill songs will only push its performers toward a life of crime.
(Image: Darren Quinton/Birmingham Live)
What did the Chief Constable say?
Ch Con Thompson said: “We recognise that this style of music is very popular among young people, and that actually there’s a lot of creativity going into this.
“And nobody wants to discourage that, and that’s really important. But it is right to say that we have seen occasions where some groups performing drill music have more than a fleeting association with criminality, or have more than a fleeting association with disputes with other groups, and drill music has been used as a means to deliver threats or intimidation, and that’s the area we have to be concerned with.
“So we would never want to be in a position where we use criminal behaviour orders to ban people making drill music, but we do want to stop instances where violence or threats are incited.
“So we have used some civil orders, and we have used some legislation on occasions. We have one particular order in place at the moment that is in an interim stage which is stopping people participating in this music, but not from the music, but actually from inciting or glorifying gang violence.
“So what we’ve tried to do is where we’ve got an evidence base where somebody is trying to use this, potentially, or is involved in a dispute, we’ll try and regulate that behaviour rather than actually stop them participating in the music.
“Because I certainly wouldn’t want to be a killjoy for what is actually quite a mainstream area of performance, it’s very engaging for young people, and we’re not trying to regulate a behaviour.
“But we do see cases where it’s being used to incite trouble, and those are the occasions we will intervene around. So we try and strike a careful balance.”