Anti-knife crime protesters have demanded YouTube act more quickly to remove violent videos.
The female campaigners smeared themselves in fake blood outside the company’s London headquarters, urging them to do something about videos where gangs threaten revenge.
One of the protesters, youth worker Lucy Martindale from south London, said: ‘I work with young people and every day they are reciting drill lyrics, talking about what they are going to do.
‘We have approached YouTube several times and asked them to control their content and remove certain videos.
‘Why is it taking them seven months to remove one video of men with knives and guns where they were saying ‘we’re glad your mother buried you and we’re going to kill your other children?’
‘That’s not OK.’
Members of the ‘OperationShutdown group, including those who have lost family members to knife and gun crime, chanted ‘YouTube – Blood On Their Hands’ and ‘Drop The Knife, Save A Life’ as they staged the protest on this lunchtime.
Around 20 women first went to the King’s Cross premises of Google, parent company of YouTube, and then the offices of the video sharing website itself.
‘Knife crime has been a huge part of my life since I was nine years old, I witnessed my cousin being murdered when I was outside playing,’ Lucy said.
‘I grew up surrounded by gangs, within seven years I lost 11 family and friends to murder, gun and knife crime.
‘We believe YouTube plays a part in the rising knife crime we see.’
The 29-year-old mother-of-three young children, added: ‘It’s not just about blaming the police or blaming the mayor, everybody has a part to play, and we just hope by doing these campaigns and raising awareness a small change can be made.
‘Hopefully after today YouTube will be willing to sit down with us and allow us to have a relationship with them, so when we do have intelligence of videos being uploaded they can take them down as quickly as possible and ban these people from uploading them.’
A spokesman for YouTube, which says it blocks videos in the UK where an individual brandishes weapons in a threatening manner, said: ‘We have developed policies specifically to help tackle videos related to knife crime in the UK and are continuing to work constructively with experts on this issue.
‘We work with the Metropolitan Police, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, the Home Office and community groups to understand this issue and ensure we are able to take action on gang-related content that infringe our community guidelines or break the law.
‘We have a dedicated process for the police and the Prison Service to flag videos directly to our teams because we often need specialist context from law enforcement to identify real-life threats.’
It comes as figures released last month show knife crime at record levels in England and Wales.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed an increase of 6% in a year and the largest total since comparable data began in 2011.
The number of violent offences recorded by police was more than 1,608,500 last year, a 19 per cent increase on 2017.