Police revise 'racist' events risk form

Bowing to pressure from a growing coalition of race activists and urban music stars, the Metropolitan Police today agreed to revise a controversial method of monitoring gigs which critics have labelled "potentially racist".

Complaints have been growing in recent months over the Met’s use of Form 696 – a voluntary policing tool which asks venues to provide the names, addresses and contact telephone numbers for artists and promoters.

London’s police force have long argued that Form 696 is a vital way of being able to monitor and crack down on gun crime which can often flair up after concerts and club nights. But critics have accused the police of using the form to target music genres that are popular with black and Asian fans such as grime, bashment and hip-hop. They believe the form unfairly treats entire music genres as potentially criminal rather than target the individuals causing violence at music gigs.

Heralding what they describe as a more “laissez faire” approach to policing urban gigs in the capital, the Met today said that they would now no longer ask venues to provide the telephone numbers of artists booked for a night. They also announced the creation of a scrutiny panel which would keep an eye on how police officers are using Form 696 and to address any concerns within the music industry.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, who is head of the Metropolitan Police's clubs and vice unit, emphasised the voluntary nature of the form which, he admitted, had "some clumsy bits". But he insisted his officers would continue to encourage venues to give details of their promoters and musicians in order to crack down on gang related violence.

In an attempt to allay fears that the police were targeting specific music genres, Chief Superintendent Martin said: "I'm not interested in the music type. Sometimes it's just about the following. If you have a series of people playing in a nightclub, each will have their own following. Sometimes those followings don't get on."

Venues that tended to cause the most amount of problems for law and order, he said, tended to be club nights featuring recorded music after 10pm rather than live music events. As a result there would be less emphasis on persuading live venues to fill in Form 696 and more interaction with club night promoters.

The police were forced to clarify their use of Form 696 after a coalition of more than 50 race activists, music stars and politicians – including black minister David Lammy – called on the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to intervene, saying there was "unease" that it was being used to target events by black or Asian organisers.

Speaking to The Independent yesterday Bashy, a popular grime artist who is nominated for two MOBOs, called on the Metropolitan Police to abandon the form altogether. "Form 696 is completely prohibitive,” he said. “Of course I recognise the overall purpose behind the introduction of the form, but ultimately its administration is faulty. It’s not exercised with rock stars or high profile individuals who have equally high profile criminal records, instead it's purely applied to events where urban artists are attending.”

He added: “Music is such a positive form of expression and I hate that something as assumptive as 696 is being imposed on my craft. I've signed a petition to have it scrapped as it concerns me that the MET would try to make a professional assessment about the risk of trouble at an event, based purely on the ethnic make-up of those attending."

Sunny Hundal, the editor of political blog Liberal Conspiracy and the original author of the letter to the EHRC, said “Form 696 is a stupid bit of bureaucracy which often makes it incredibly difficult to host live music in the capital and which also has a distinctly racial element to it. When the earlier versions of the form came out the police were asking for the general ethnicity of those who would attend a music night. They’ve got rid of that but they still ask for the type of music being played which is clearly just another way of racially profiling an event. It’s not about preventing terrorism, it’s about creeping authoritarianism.”

The Liberal Democrats have also spoken voiced their concerns over the form. Don Foster, Liberal Democrat Shadow for Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, said: “It is frankly bizarre that the police believe that there is some kind of link between the genre of music and the perceived safety of audience members.The police seem to be saying certain music genres and the people who enjoy them are ‘trouble’ and must be heavily monitored.”

But others have defended the form and say it has helped keep potentially violent gangs away from each other at heavily packed gigs where bystanders could easily get hurt. John Noblemunn, vice-chairman of the Trident Independent Advisory Group, which works with police to tackle crime among young black people in the capital, said he knew of an incident in Haringey, north London where a 696 was completed and extra security was put in place because it was feared a shooting would take place.

As a result of the extra security checks, two people were stopped who were carrying guns, he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all