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Reverend And The Makers John McClure at Little Noise Sessions

Form 696 fury

Met responds to calls from Feargal Sharkey and 'The Reverend' to scrap it
03 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."

Georgie Rogers

Have your say

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Comments so far

Alan. Immediate music video. London.
As a small promoter and music video maker, this legislation could end my hard work.. I try as hard as I can to get people in to my venues to see new bands. how can I or my venue owners possibly comply with this open ended form ? If I am lucky, I will get 50-60 people into the gig. I would have no idea who or what the ethnic group is (nor should it matter), this could drop the venue owner in brown stuff. From all angles, it is not possible for me to run a gig and hope to succeed. Not least, if bands change at the last min. I could'nt comply. End of my work for new bands ???.

Bobby Wotnot Milton Keynes
This is completely mental, we need more freedom not less. Watch out Big Brother is taking over. How will we ever have guest slots or jam nights.... crazy

this is ridiculous,and will hurt everyone trying to make it as a professional musician,which isn't exactly easy in the first place without the government and police screwing over the little promotors.i dont see this having a great deal of effect on knife/gun crime,and only a negative effect on performers

Jason Hayselden, Luton
i believe that the issue with the form is that it goes too in depth, my main consern is that it will reduce the amount of gigs going on due to the hassle placed on the venue, if the venue intends to put on daily events they would spend so much time filling out these forms, it also makes it near enough impossible for them to get around last minute lineup changes. Also if a venue makes one mistake and ends up geting fined it could force them to stop putting on gigs completely. I think that it should be simplified to a one of form that simply consits of the venue details, the security details, and the days events are likely to be held

Rick, Hitchin
What has the UK government and police got against live music? Every additional bit licence legislation and paperwork seems designed to push it one step closer to extinction.

Thom, Birmingham
This is the very very very very thin end of a huge and potentially devastating wedge. Not only is this a infringement of free speech, right to privacy and the right to freely assemble it marks the codification of the removal of democracy in this country. At what point do the Police demand a racial/political/ethnic background for attendees at political meetings? This is disgusting and needs to be stopped, why this is not being debated in Parliament is baffling.

Jack: London
The thin end of the wedge: it will give the breweries a good excuse to get rid of all music from their pubs and clubs and replace it with Sky Sport and cheap Thai food. The end of Live Music? Thanks Gordon!

Mick, Brighton
Seems perfectly reasonable to me. Of course the danger is that legislation like this is open to abuse, but the fact remains, there is a genuine problem in London and other major cities and this, in my view, appears to be a fairly well intentioned attempt to curtail it.

Tom, Brighton
As a promoter, musician AND a licencee. i feel personally targeted for a problem which actually involves audience members. If this legislation is applied to Brighton my job will be completely impossible. Surely the police should be preventing violent gang members from attending events which are staged purely for the entertainment of others.

Patrick Billingham, Brighton
Is this to be the end of orchestras and big bands then? In my experience, most performances involve deps, quite often brought in only a day or so before the performance.I write from experience. I run a big band. I know the phone numbers and email addresses of the members of my band, but I don't know where most of them live. I have also depped at short notice in other bands, quite often being contacted by another musician who him/herself is unable to dep.If Form 696 ever becomes law, I wonder how many musicals will have to cancel a performance, because none of the regular deps is available.Let's keep Form 696 voluntary and restricted to the capital.

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