Today's Music News
Form 696 fury
Met responds to calls from Feargal Sharkey and 'The Reverend' to scrap it03 December 2008 - The Met Police has responded to claims by the Reverend And The Makers' frontman Jon McClure that it's targeting black music fans with it's Form 696.
Earlier today (3 December) he spoke to 6 Music about the petition he has set up on the Prime Minister's Office website against the Met Police's voluntary Form 696, which has been in use since 2005.
The form is used for the risk assessment of gigs and requires names, addresses and phone numbers of all performers 14 days in advance, and compels licence owners to give profiles of those people turning up at live music events.
McClure described it as, "racial discrimination," and told BBC 6 Music: "For me, the 696 is an attack on local promoters because it makes their job increasingly difficult, but also, it's a bit of a racist tool used by the London Met and other boroughs to basically stop black kids having gigs. For what purpose does the ethnicity of an audience matter in modern day society, nothing.
"I think it's that out of order and ridiculous that if enough people know about it, then they will have to drop it."
But the Met said: "It is not discriminatory, it's in the interest of general public safety," and open to consultation.
McClure continued: "For example, imagine if you were at a massive Oasis gig and you see a load of beer lads fighting in a circle which happens all the time, at the front scrapping, how's that anything worse than anything else? But they don't target indie fans.
"It wasn't about the music, it wasn't about the venue, it wasn't about the promotion, it was because gangs were associated with those particular events."
Detective Superintendent David Isles
"If the idea of this is to stop knife crime, do you not think if someone wants to stab someone bad enough they'll just go and do it somewhere else?
"I think the public of Britain have been a bit hoodwinked, because they just slide these things into place without us really knowing about it because no one really knew this form existed until recently."
Feargal Sharkey’s call
The head of the industry body, UK Music has reported the use of the form to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and has called for a judicial review into its use.
He explained: "We are already aware of a number of pubs that have had this now attached as a mandatory condition to their license, which means if the landlord of that pub does not give that information, he is then in breach of his license.
"That could result in either the loss of the license and therefore his business and, or a maximum of £20,000 fine and, or six months in jail."
He confirmed that they might take their fight against Form 696 to the courts: "UK Music is currently looking at the process of judicial review and that would involve all 21 local boroughs that we believe are involved in this.
"However, it does raise the question as to quite why a music industry is potentially going to have to fund a high court case costing hundreds of thousands of pounds to deal with a bit of legislation that is quite obviously deeply flawed and why isn't the Government intervening to fix it in the first place?"
The Met's view
David Isles, a Detective Superintendent with the Met Police Clubs and Vice unit, has responded to McClure's comments saying Form 696 is not designed to stop people having a good time.
"I think that that's naive in the extreme because this is about Black Kids being shot and stabbed and being targeted," Isles replied.
Form 696 initially came about when the police became concerned with the number of black on black shootings around nightclubs.
Isles went on: "You have particular gangs aligned to particular types of music and that obviously created an environment where rival gangs would target them.
"It wasn't about the music, it wasn't about the venue, it wasn't about the promotion it was because gangs were associated with those particular events."
And he said this came about through a process of consultation with all concerned, the nightclubs, the local police, the security firms and the promoters.
According to Isles, the method is under review and the Met are always open to consultation: "We want to work with all these various agencies to come up with solutions, not to shut events down.
"That is the last resort and we would only ever do that when the threat level is so high that no means of intervention could prevent someone from becoming a victim of violence."