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London police drop controversial form 696

By | Published on Monday 13 November 2017

Metropolitan Police

London’s Metropolitan Police announced on Friday that, having had a jolly good think about it, it reckons the time is about right to axe its often controversial form 696, the bit of licensing bureaucracy which critics claimed discriminated against certain genres of music and certain ethnicities of music fan.

As much previously reported, form 696 asked for the names, stage names, addresses and phone numbers of all promoters and artists at events where pre-recorded backing tracks were used. An earlier version of the document also asked about the specific genre of music being performed and likely ethnic make-up of the audience, though those questions were dropped in 2009 after a number of artists and music industry groups campaigned against what was seen as racial profiling.

Nevertheless, concerns persisted about the form even in its revised state, the ‘pre-recorded backing track’ stipulation meaning it only really applied to certain genres.

With that in mind, earlier this year the government’s Culture (now Digital) Minister Matt Hancock wrote to London mayor Sadiq Khan, stating: “I am concerned that the form is not only potentially stifling young artists and reducing the diversity of London’s world-renowned musical offering, but is also having a negative impact on the city’s night-time economy by pushing organisers and promoters of urban music events outside London”.

In response, Khan consulted various interested parties and subsequently requested that the Metropolitan Police review its continued use of the form. And it’s that review that has resulted in the police authority dropping the formal paperwork and adopting a new approach to policing music and clubbing events in the capital instead.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Met said: “The form 696 was originally introduced in 2005 in response to a number of shootings at promoted club nights across London. There is no doubt that over the last decade a number of serious incidents have been prevented through the effective exchange of information, advice and intelligence between the Met, promoters and venue managers as part of this process”.

“However, we also recognise recent concerns raised by members of the London music industry”, the statement went on. “Particularly around a perception that events associated with some genres of music were disproportionately affected by this process”.

The police force’s Roy Smith then added: “It is clear that in recent years the landscape of the night time economy in London has changed and thankfully we have seen a reduction in serious incidents at promoted music events, particularly those involving firearms”.

“We have also been working in close partnership with the music industry and others to raise standards of safety in venues and at events”, he continued, adding that, with that in mind, “we have taken the decision to remove the form 696 and instead develop a new voluntary partnership approach for venues and promoters across London. This will provide an excellent opportunity to share information at a local level and work to identify any enhanced risk to ensure the safety of the public”.

The decision has been widely welcomed by the London music community and elsewhere. The Musicians’ Union’s National Organiser For Live Performance, Dave Webster, told reporters: “This news is most welcome and we are grateful to all stakeholders who have listened and responded. It is very good news that following meetings with the Metropolitan Police and the London Music Board, the Met chose to scrap the use of the form, and is developing more inclusive ways of ensuring safe gigs for everybody such as promoter forums and more integrated liaison with local councils and venue owners”.

Meanwhile, Khan welcomed the move too, stating: “This decision will help London’s night-time economy thrive, ensure the capital is a welcoming place for artists and DJs of all music genres, and that Londoners are able to enjoy live music safely”.



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