A report produced by JUSTICE, a working party examining the causes of BAME disproportionality in the Youth Justice System has identified Courts and Prosecutors misunderstanding of drill music purely as an incitement to violence as one factor contributing to the over-representation of minority ethnic youths in the criminal justice system.
Justice found that 52% of those in custody aged 10-17 were from an ethnic minority background, compared to 18% of the general population. It highlights the unfair use of drill music by Prosecutors as bad character evidence in court which paints the genre as ‘innately illegal, dangerous and problematic’.
JUSTICE highlight lyrics being adduced as biographical statements, which are ruled to be admissible evidence by magistrates and judges, leading to convictions against children in gang-based crimes, on the basis of an appearance in a music video.
There is evidence that drill music is inevitably hijacked by gangs to promote their brand, reputation, territory, and drugs networks, but the majority of the young people we engage with, see drill music as a way of expressing themselves – talking about their environment, day to day lives and their reality. The lyrics are often about obtaining money, status, and power, because these are the things many young people on the streets don’t have.
Read our blog on the drill discussion (https://resilienceprogramme.co.uk/drill-music-a-means-of-self-expression-or-giving-violence-a-voice). Or review the findings and forty five recommendations made by JUSTICE here: https://justice.org.uk/our-work/criminal-justice-system/criminal-justice-system/current-work-criminal-justice/tackling-racial-injustice.