Reverend, Feargal Sharkey, Sway attack police’s ‘gig form’

Musicians claim Form 696 is 'racial discrimination'

The Metropolitan Police have defended the use of the controversial Form 696, a form used by gig promoters in some London boroughs with regards to police risk assessment which Jon ‘The Reverend’ McClure has claimed is “racial discrimination”.

Form 696 – which is voluntary but can be made compulsory as venue licenses are updated – asked owners to stipulate the ethnicity of fans expected at their gigs along with the “music style to be played”, offering only “Bashment, R’n’B, Garage” as examples.

McClure has set up a petition at calling for use of the form to be scrapped.

UK Music chief, and former Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey, has reported the form to the Equality And Human Rights Commission – and is calling for a judicial review.

London rappers including Sway have accused police of “stereotyping” fans.

“It’s racial discrimination,” McClure told NME.COM “How can you define an audience by its ethnicity? Plus, they’re putting burdens on small promoters – every music fan should care about that.”

“It’s stereotyping,” added Sway. “I’m hip-hop, but my audience is 80 per cent white.” The rapper said he understood why police wanted extra security at hip-hop gigs, but said they were “fixing the wrong pipe” by ethnically profiling shows.

“When you start making it about colour it becomes a problem,” he said. “You need security at hip-hop gigs but not because of the ethnicity of the people going. Rap is geared towards young people, who are more likely to be involved in fights – not just black people.”

London promoter Ara, head of hip-hop night Jump Off, said the UK live music scene had enough problems already without more paperwork.

“There’s a stereotypical perception that hip-hop is violent,” he said. “We’ve been going for five years and we’ve had one fight. Now it’s hard to even talk to clubs. I’m not sure if it’s because of police pressure, but our rent has rocketed.”

Sharkey, who has worked closely with government on other music issues, is hoping the police will withdraw it, not least because it is impractical for all musicians, highlighting a section that asks for personal details of everyone performing.

“God forbid Jarvis Cocker turns up at your show and wants to come on stage,” he noted. “He can’t!”

Detective Superintendent David Eyles of the Metropolitan Police defended the form, saying ethnic profiling of events was relevant. “It’s a matter of common knowledge that serious violence at music venues tends to be by black gangs,” he claimed. “That’s relevant for risk assessment.

“Gangs associate themselves with particular music events. It’s not about the music, it’s about the fact that those people [gang members] have a propensity to shoot each other and attach themselves to that music.”

For more, see this week’s issue of NME, on UK newsstands now.