LONDON — Social media companies must do more in the fight against violent crime, U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Monday as she came under sustained pressure over a recent spike in killings.
At the launch of the U.K. governments “serious violence strategy” in central London the U.K. home secretary said platforms should make clear they will not post gang violence-related content.
There is “strong evidence” rival gangs are using social media to promote gang culture to “taunt each other and incite violence,” a Home Office report laying out the new strategy said. It also offers a method for promoting drug selling and recruitment with groups posing pictures of themselves surrounded by money, the report adds.
Rudd said social media companies should do more to restrict such content. “Some might say this is impossible, but when I called on social media to deal with terrorist content on their platforms, they listened and they took action and I am asking them to do so again because it is the right thing to do. Because fighting crime and keep each other safe isnt just the responsibility of government, it is everybodys responsibility,” she added.
The U.K. government has come under pressure in recent days over its approach to knife and gang crime after the number homicides in London last week topped 50 so far this year following a spate of shooting and stabbing deaths.
Rudd was forced again to rebut claims that police cuts, which have led to police numbers falling by more than 20,000 since 2010, are not to blame for the spike after a home office research document obtained by The Guardian suggested there could be a link between rising violent crime and police cuts.
She insisted she had not seen the document in question and that the evidence did not back up claims made by political opponents that fewer officers on the beat had contributed to the spike in violence.
“One of the contentions is that there are not enough officers on the streets, the evidence however does not support this,” she said in the speech.
Rudd used a foreward in the document launching the governments new strategy to insist the government cannot “arrest our way out of this issue” and that tackling serious violence was “not a law enforcement issue alone.”
She announced £40m of Home Office funding to address the issue and a new offensive weapons bill banning the sale of acid to under-18s plus extra restrictions on buying knives online.
Official figures suggest that between 2014-15 and 2016-17, homicides where either the victim or suspect were known to be involved in using or dealing illicit drugs increased from 50 per cent to 57 per cent, the Home Office said.
While acknowledging the spike in violence, the report suggests that about half the rise in robbery, knife and gun crime is due to improvements in police recording.