Cracking down on gangs

Two weeks ago a constituent contacted me with a problem that made me both angry and distressed at the same time. He came to me because he wanted to tell me about his son’s experience of gangs.

Reading through his email, I was horrified to discover that you can find footage of gangs in Lewisham rapping about their criminal behaviour and waving knives around. These vidoes are filmed in broad daylight, on our streets and in our town centres. Some of the videos I watched had over 16,000 viewings.

Whilst Lewisham Police have had some really good successes in taking senior gang members off the streets in the last year or so, I was appalled to see this footage online.

I spent a good 15 minutes trying to work out how I could get this footage taken down, only to discover that Youtube relies upon viewers to flag a video as containing “inappropriate content”. I came across comments from people all over the UK (one from Liverpool sticks in my memory) saying that they had done this, but nothing happens – the footage remains up there.

There is seemingly no way to report the video via a different mechanism and following an exchange of letters with the Police, it transpires they have very little power to do anything about this online material either. They did assure me that action has been taken against one of the key individuals in the Catford video that I had sent them the link for (they were already aware of it and had acted long before they got my letter).

I appreciate that the web is incredibly difficult to police, but I can’t accept that this sort of footage should remain online. If anything is going to glorify gang membership, I would have thought that 3 minutes of fame on Youtube, watched by thousands and thousands of people is going to do just it. Surely something has to be done about?

Well, I’m on the case. I first raised the matter with the Policing Minister Nick Herbert in the Commons on September 8th and have since written to him (no response as yet). One of our local newspapers, the News Shopper has featured my campaign on its front page and I’m not going to give up on pressing the government on what can be done about this.

It’s simply wrong that gangs can glamourise their culture of violence with impunity – if you have any ideas about how to help with my campaign, please get in touch.


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