Home Secretary Amber Rudd says YouTube and social media companies must do more to remove content which glamorises violence and gang culture after a spate of killings in London.
The murder rate in the capital is now higher than that of New York City as lawlessness threatens to return to the streets seven years after the London riots.
Since Easter Devoy Stapleton and Israel Ogunsola have been stabbed to death and Tanesha Melbourne-Blake and Amaan Shakoor fatally shot in various locations around the capital.
On Monday the government published the Serious Violence Strategy after a review into the increase in homicides, knife crime and gun crime.
“As I speak, gangs are posting videos and music online that document, encourage and glamorise violence and goad and threaten others – and the repercussions can be deadly,” Rudd said.
“Last August 15-year-old Jermaine Goupall was knifed to death in South London in the climax of a feud between rival gangs posting mocking videos on YouTube.
“It is already an offence to incite, assist or encourage violence online and I expect to see social media companies standing by their obligations to remove this kind of content as necessary.
“But social media companies must do more: I am calling on them to review their terms and conditions and make it clear that that they will not host any content linked to gangs or gang violence.
“When I called on social media companies to deal with terrorist content on their platforms, they listened and took action [and] I’m asking them to do so again.
“Fighting crime and keeping each other safe isn’t just the responsibility of government, it’s everybody’s responsibility.”
The government has also launched #knifefree, an online advertising campaign raising awareness about the risks and consequences of carrying knives, and will introduce new laws within weeks to make it more difficult to purchase guns, knives and acid – for example banning the delivery of knives bought online to residential addresses.
Tory politician Rudd said the evidence coming out of the review does not support Labour’s claim that a reduction in the number of police officers on the streets has been to blame for the increase in violence, while she described the supporting theory that dwindling youth services in the country could also have had an impact as “simplistic”.
She said that an increase in drug use appears to be the biggest driver of the increase in violent crime and announced £3.6 million funding for a new National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to tackle the problem of city-based drugs networks expanding around the UK.
She also announced an £11m Early Intervention Youth Fund to help communities run early intervention and prevention programmes for young people at risk of getting involved in violence.