LONDON (Reuters) - Five London gang members have been ordered by a court not to make “drill music,” a niche form of hip-hop that glorifies violence and has been linked to a surge in knife crime.
The five, aged between 17 and 21, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit violent disorder after they were arrested last November armed with machetes, baseball bats, masks, balaclavas and gloves.
Police said the group, members of a gang based in the Notting Hill area of west London, were on their way at the time of their arrest to attack a rival gang.
All five were given custodial sentences at Kingston Crown Court earlier this week.
On Friday, the court imposed “criminal behavior orders” that would ban them from making drill music for three years after being shown seven videos which showed how the group had been promoting violence.
One song called “No Hook” included sounds of gunshots and lyrics about shooting and stabbing such as “Ching (stab) Splash (stab) aim for his lungs”, police said.
“We believe this to be one of the first times, if not the first time, we have succeeded in gaining Criminal Behaviour Orders that take such detailed and firm measures to restrict the actions of a gang who blatantly glorified violence through the music they created,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth in a statement.
“Their lyrics referenced real events that had happened and made threats that further violence would take place.”
The authorities in London have been struggling to come to grips with an increase in knife crime that saw the city’s murder rate overtake that of New York in February and March, for the first time in modern history.
Some youth workers have disputed the link between drill music and gang violence, pointing to cuts to youth services due to government fiscal austerity measures as a more substantive reason for the increase in knife crime.
Police had spent two years gathering evidence of the Notting Hill gang’s music and social media activity.
They gave annotated excerpts from the lyrics of “No Hook”:
“Clock me an opp (opposing gang member), wind down the window, back (get) out the spinner (revolver firearm) and burst (shoot) him.”
“I put bullets in numerous guys like how come the opps ain’t learning?”
The criminal behavior orders also prevent the gang members from entering certain areas, wearing face coverings such as bandanas in public places, and displaying gang-related hand gestures.
Reporting by Michael Holden and Stephen Addison; editing by Andy Bruce