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Metropolitan Police to review controversial form 696

By | Published on Friday 22 September 2017

Metropolitan Police

London’s Metropolitan Police has confirmed it will review its often controversial 696 form, which critics claim discriminates against certain genres of music and certain ethnicities of music fan.

As previously reported, form 696 asks for the names, stage names, addresses and phone numbers of all promoters and artists at events where pre-recorded backing tracks are used.

An earlier version of the document also asked about the specific genre of music being performed and likely ethnic make-up of the audience, though those questions were dropped in 2009 after a number of artists and music industry groups campaigned against what was seen as racial profiling.

Nevertheless, concerns have persisted about the form, and other similar documents now used by sixteen other British police forces, some of which – according to a BBC report earlier this year – still ask one or both of the more controversial questions dropped in London.

Culture (now Digital) Minister Matt Hancock wrote to London mayor Sadiq Khan about the continued use of the form earlier this year, stating: “I am concerned that the form is not only potentially stifling young artists and reducing the diversity of London’s world-renowned musical offering, but is also having a negative impact on the city’s night-time economy by pushing organisers and promoters of urban music events outside London”.

Khan seemingly subsequently spoke to a number of promoters, venues, artists and DJs himself, and has now asked the capital’s police chiefs to review the form, stating that policing efforts to ensure public safety at live events “shouldn’t compromise the capital’s vibrant grassroots music industry or unfairly target one community or music genre”.

London police have generally played down the impact of the form, while insisting that the bureaucracy is never used to racially profile potential audiences at any one gig or club night. But a number of artists and promoters dispute both those claims.

Alan Miller, Chair of the Night Time Industries Association, has welcomed the review, telling The Guardian: “This form has been a big problem for venue and promoters and it’s stifling certain types of nightlife. Obviously we want events to be policed and to be safe, but it is being used by police to target nights by black artists because they see those nights as being more aggressive and harder to control and more associated with gang crime”.

Miller added: “And if there is an incident at an event where it’s a bunch of white lads, it’s treated as an isolated incident, but if it’s mainly black kids involved then it becomes associated with an entire event or genre of music, so that’s how it’s decided that grime or garage nights as a whole are too dangerous to put on. The 696 form means that keeps happening”.