Form 696 could be on its way out
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the body that monitors and advises the Government’s department for culture, media and sport, has recommended that a controversial form police have been using in some London boroughs that musicians had branded “racist” be scrapped.
Versions of Form 696, which is used by police for risk assessment of gigs, asked for details of the ethnicity of music fans set to attend events, plus the style of music that will be played.
It was branded “racist” by musicians including Jon ‘The Reverend’ McClure, while Feargal Sharkey, head of music industry umbrella group UK Music, had called for it to be dropped, disputing the link between live music and violence and calling it “unreasonable”.
In a new report published today (May 14), the Culture, Media and Sport Committee describes the form as “beyond the requirements” of the Licensing Act, and as such are urging the government to scrap it.
The report reads: “We are concerned at the linkage of live music and public order issues by the Licensing Act and its accompanying guidance, and we emphasise that music should not automatically be treated as a disruptive activity which will inevitably lead to nuisance and disorder.
“We therefore conclude that the Metropolitan Police‘s Form 696 goes beyond the requirements of both the act and its guidance to impose unreasonable conditions on events and that it should be scrapped.
“Form 696 goes beyond the requirements of the act itself and its use is in our view beyond even what the guidance accompanying the act suggests might be appropriate. We believe that Form 696 is indeed unreasonable.
“Such a form goes well beyond the requirements of the Licensing Act, and has a detrimental effect on the performance of live music. We recommend that Form 696 should be scrapped.”
Outlining the body’s view on the link between violence and live music, the report read: “There is little evidence to link the majority of live music performances to public order issues.”
McClure, who set up a petition to scrap the form at Petitions.number10.gov.uk welcomed the news.
“It proves we were right,” he told NME.COM. “Like we said at the time, if you’re gonna stab someone you’re going to to do it anyway. You can’t clamp down on music as an excuse, it’s like blaming reggae for making people smoke weed.”
Sharkey was similarly heartened. He said in a statement: “As with the restrictions on small venues, Form 696 is a wholly unnecessary impediment to live music and has become a mandatory licensing condition on more than 70 premises in 21 London boroughs.
“UK Music has been vocal amongst musicians, civil liberty campaigners and members of the public who want to see this counter-productive and morally questionable risk assessment form scrapped. I am delighted the committee feels the same way.”