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‘This will help London thrive’: Met axes form 696

London’s Metropolitan police is to abolish form 696, the controversial risk-assessment document critics claim discriminates against grime and other predominantly black music, in a move welcomed by mayor Sadiq Khan.

Following a review process, which included consultations with local authorities, venues, the Musicians’ Union, London Promoter Forum and the Institute of Licensing, the Met announced today it is to abolish the form – which it acknowledged was perceived to “disproportionately affect” certain genres of music – in favour of a “new voluntary partnership approach” with venues and promoters in the city.

Form 696, introduced in 2005 in response to a number of shootings at club nights across London, requires potential licensees to list performers’ and promoters’ names, addresses and phone numbers, the style of music to be performed and the event’s target audience. It is the requests for information on genre and audience that are particularly controversial, with critics accusing the police of racial profiling by singling out primarily black musical styles such as grime, garage and bashment.

Ticketmaster’s latest State of Play report, which focuses on grime, revealed more than half the British general public believes the form to be discriminatory.

Half of UK population say form 696 is discriminatory

“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,” says Met superintendent Roy Smith. “We have also been working in close partnership with the music industry and others to raise standards of safety in venues and at events.

“We have taken the decision to remove 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.”

“This decision will … ensure the capital is a welcoming place for artists and DJs of all music genres”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan – a notable critic of form 696 – adds: “Developing a night-time economy that works for everyone is a key priority of mine, but it’s also vital that live music events in London take place safely. I called for a review of form 696 earlier this year because of concerns raised by promoters and artists in the capital that this process was unfairly affecting specific communities and music genres. […]

“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.”

He also praised the work of night czar Amy Lamé in securing the form’s repeal, saying that, “by bringing together the Met and representatives from across the city’s legendary grassroots music industry, we have shown why having a night czar is so important for London”.

“It’s great that mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London’s night czar, Amy Lamé, have listened to the concerns of the music industry”

Industry umbrella group UK Music also welcomed the decision to scrap form 696, with chief executive Michael Dugher commenting: “This is fantastic news. UK Music has campaigned to get rid of this unpopular restriction on our diverse and vibrant music scene.”

“It’s great that mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London’s night czar, Amy Lamé, have listened to the concerns of the music industry.” 

“We thank him for showing leadership on this important issue and ensuring that the London remains a world beater when it comes to our cultural music mix.”

 


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Half of UK population say form 696 is discriminatory

Controversial risk-assessment document form 696 has been thrust into the spotlight once more after a survey revealed almost half the British general public thinks the form is discriminatory against those forced to complete it.

New data released today by Ticketmaster shows 48% of those polled – a “nationally representative” sample of the British population – think the form is discriminatory because it only applies to certain events. Culture minister Matt Hancock and the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, are among those to have called for a review of form 696, which is used by London’s Metropolitan police to determine the potential level of risk involved in events where a DJ or MC is using a backing track.

Critics accuse the form – which asks for a description of the style of music and target audience, and is a requirement for promoters and licensees of events to complete 14 days before the event – of being anti-grime and urban music, as it as it disproportionally affects promoters of those shows.

The findings form part of Ticketmaster’s State of Play: Grime report, which follows similar investigations by the ticketing company into other sectors of the live industry, including theatre, comedy and dance music. The study, produced by Ticketmaster’s LiveAnalytics division in partnership with Disrupt and the University of Westminster’s black music research unit, is described as the “first comprehensive and academic study into public attitudes to grime and its political impact”.

Other findings of the report include:

Ticketmaster UK manager director Andrew Parsons comments: “This year’s State of Play report was especially exciting for us, as here at Ticketmaster we have witnessed firsthand the extraordinary rise of grime music from the increase in ticket sales for grime events. We partnered with Disrupt Creative and University of Westminster and set out to create the first set of granular data around grime and quantify its incredible popularity and influence in culture.”

“Grime is one of the great music genres to come out of London, and with international talent like Skepta as well as rising stars like Nadia Rose bringing grime to the world stage, it is little wonder this grassroots music movement is now becoming a huge part of mainstream culture,” adds London’s night czar, Amy Lamé. “At city hall, we are doing everything we can to safeguard grassroots music, showing the world that London is open to talent and creativity.

“As well as setting out measures to promote busking and protect grassroots music venues, we’ve made it clear that form 696 shouldn’t compromise the capital’s vibrant music industry or unfairly target one community or music genre. That is why we are working with the Met and London’s promoters, venues and artists to make sure London’s legendary music scene is the best and safest in the world.”

 


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UK minister voices concerns over ‘anti-grime’ 696

Matt Hancock MP, the UK’s minister of state for digital and culture, has written to the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to express his concern that promoters of grime and other “urban music events” are being forced out of the capital by a controversial risk-assessment form.

‘Form 696′, a document issued by the Metropolitan police to those requesting permission to hold an event, requires potential licensees to list performers’ and promoters’ names, addresses and phone numbers, the style of music to be performed and the event’s target audience. It is the requests for information on genre and audience that are particularly controversial, with critics accusing the police of racial profiling by singling out primarily black musical styles such as grime, garage and bashment.

Hancock says form 696 risks hurting London’s embattled small-venue scene, which has only recently recovered after a long period of decline, by “pushing organisers and promoters of urban music events to take them outside London” to cities that don’t use the form.

In his letter, shared with The Independent, Hancock writes: “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 London’s night-time economy by pushing organisers and promoters of urban music events to take them outside London. This form is just used in London and not other UK cities.

“British music is successful because it is diverse. It is right that government is stepping in on this issue”

“I appreciate that form 696 is a risk assessment designed to allow the management of licensed premises, promoters of music events, event security and the police to work in partnership to identify and minimise any risk of serious crime happening at a proposed event. But I’m sure you will agree that anything which has the potential to impact negatively on free expression and London’s economy, while denying young people the opportunity to attend and perform at certain events, needs careful consideration.

“Genres of urban music like grime have the same significance for today’s young people as punk did in the 1970s, empowering them, creating a new generation of musical heroes and growing to become a worldwide phenomenon. I strongly believe that we should be encouraging and embracing all musical genres, building on London’s rich musical history as the city that gave us The Kinks, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and Amy Winehouse.

“I would like to understand whether you think form 696 is serving a justified purpose and working well, or whether there is a case for changing the current system.”

Music industry umbrella group UK Music says it welcomes Hancock’s intervention. Chief executive Jo Dipple comments: “UK Music thanks the minister, who has a track record of stepping in to support British musicians. [Hancock was also instrumental in brokering the impending ban on ticket bots.]

“Genres of urban music like grime have the same significance for today’s young people as punk did in the 1970s”

“It is important to make sure form 696 is not being unfairly used against particular musical genres. Discrimination against any musician damages all of us. It reduces the diversity of our output and limits our ability to reach our economic potential.

“We ask that anyone with first-hand experience of misuse of form 696 contacts UK Music. British music is successful because it is diverse. It is right that government is stepping in on this issue and we will work with the minister, the mayor’s office and the Metropolitan police to properly examine and address any misuse of this form.”

She adds, however, that her comments should be not construed as a “criticism of the Met police, who do amazing work in very difficult circumstances”.

 


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