London's Metropolitan Police sent YouTube triple the number of UK rap and drill video takedown requests in 2021 than in the previous year.
A new report by VICE details the increase in the Met's ongoing efforts to suppress local drill and rap music under the pretence there is a link between the genres and violence. In 2021, London police requested YouTube take down 510 videos, with 493 - or 96.7% - of those approved by the Google-owned platform, according to data VICE obtained via Freedom Of Information laws. 2020 saw 125 takedown requests issued by the Met with 124 drill videos removed, and in 2019, 110 videos were flagged with 107 removals.
This is part of the Met's Operation Domain, a team assigned to monitor "videos that incite violence" that has been targeting UK drill artists since 2015. In 2018, the Met began a self-described direct "collaboration" for "enhanced partnership working," which connects to an uptick in the number of takedown requests. Most of the Met's removal requests are approved by YouTube within a few hours, VICE reports.
In response to VICE, YouTube representatives shared the following statement: "At YouTube we are deeply committed to helping music of all genres grow and thrive. While YouTube is a platform for free and creative expression, we strictly prohibit videos that are abusive or that promote violence. We work closely with organisations like the Metropolitan Police and National Crime Agency to understand local context. We're committed to continuing and improving our work on this issue to make sure YouTube is not a place for those who seek to do harm."
In 2020, Kamila Rymajdo spoke to the Manchester-based research project Prosecuting Rap fo DJ Mag about the troubling increase in UK criminal trials using rap lyrics and videos as evidence - find her in-depth feature here.
Read Will Pritchard's full report on the Met's relationship with YouTube, increased takedown requests and ensuing effects on VICE.