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CPS asked to cease using rap lyrics in case guidance
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08 May 2024 / britain Print

CPS asked to cease using rap in case guidance

Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has been asked to remove all reference to ‘drill’ rap music in its guidance on gang-related offences.

Drill lyrics typically reflect life on the streets, and tend to be “gritty, violent, realistic, and nihilistic”, according to Wikipedia.

The move has taken place after research was published by the University of Manchester which states that the use of rap as evidence is “unfairly sweeping young black men and boys into the criminal justice system”, the Law Society of England and Wales Gazette has reported.

Secondary liability laws

The Manchester University research document said that rap is being used to build gang-related prosecutions under secondary liability laws and using rap music as evidence to build joint enterprise trials.

The authors of the Compound Injustice report found a total of 68 cases involving 252 defendants between 2020-2023 where rap music was used as evidence for serious charges of violence, including murder, the Gazette reports.

Nearly two-thirds of cases involving rap evidence had a prosecution “gang narrative”. Over two-thirds of defendants were 18-24 and 15% were 17 or under.

Garden Court Chambers’ Keir Monteith KC, gave a lecture at the university called ‘Art Not Evidence: the misuse of rap in criminal trials’.

He stated that CPS guidance contained no reference to drill being a mainstream musical genre, no reference to the risk of stereotypes, and no encouragement to find other evidence of alleged gang activity.

Monteith said a review of the guidelines has lasted two years and the use of rap and drill in criminal cases continues.

The barrister has lobbied for a restriction on the use of art, particularly rap music, as evidence in criminal trials.

The CPS said: “We are clear – creating or listening to rap or drill music is not a crime. We do not seek to prosecute people for their taste in music. In fact, we recognise the right to creativity and freedom of expression.

“We also understand that lyrics are not necessarily meant to be taken literally.

“However, on occasion we have encountered cases where upon investigation into a violent offence, it became clear that drill and rap had been used in the build-up to encourage or incite violence, or reveal information about a crime that only the attackers would know.”

The CPS said that no one has been prosecuted solely due to their involvement with drill or rap music “but it has been used to establish association between parties in some serious cases involving gang violence”.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland