The Metropolitan police has announced that it is abolishing a risk-assessment procedure accused of racially profiling urban music nights and lumbering their promoters with excessive security conditions.
The decision to get rid of form 696 comes after Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, in September called for a review of the use of the form after meeting DJs, artists and venue owners.
Critics of the process had long accused it of unfairly stigmatising hip-hop, grime and drum and bass events.
Met guidance had recommended that venues and promoters complete the form when arranging events predominantly featuring DJs and MCs performing to a recorded backing track – almost a definition of urban music.
While touted as voluntary, for many of the capital’s nightclubs its use was a necessary condition of their licence and failure to complete it could attract a fine.
In a statement, the Met said that form 696 had been introduced in 2005 in response to shootings at club nights in London, and that “there is no doubt” its use had prevented serious incidents.
“However, we also recognise recent concerns raised by members of the London music industry, particularly around a perception that events associated with some genres of music were disproportionately affected by this process,” the force said.
Supt Roy Smith, the Met’s strategic lead on the night-time economy, said the form would be replaced by a “voluntary partnership approach”, without giving details of what that would involve.
Police had previously denied that it was being used to target certain genres, but the form attracted much criticism over the years.
In 2009 two questions that asked for the ethnic makeup of attendees and the genre of music being performed were removed from the form following accusations of racial profiling.
However that did not end accusations that its application was discriminatory.
In 2014 the artist JME called the form “at attack on people’s civil liberties” and described its use as “blatant discrimination” after one of his performances was cancelled at short notice.
British rapper Giggs, who has been all but unable to play London shows because of the form, said of it last year: “They need to work with us.
If they think there’s a threat then help us – put some police out there and work with us rather than just shutting us down.”
J Hus, who was nominated for the Mercury prize this year, was unable to include a London date on his nationwide tour because the 696 form makes it almost impossible for venues in the capital to book him without police objection.
There was controversy last year when police in Croydon were accused of trying to ban bashment, a Jamaican music genre.
Opponents of the process found an unexpected but influential ally in the Conservative MP Matt Hancock, minister for creative industries, who wrote to Khan this year to warn that form 696 was “potentially stifling young artists” in London’s grime scene.
Responding to the decision, Hancock on Friday said he was delighted the Met had scrapped the “discriminatory” process.
“This decision is fantastic news for live music across London, particularly for grime.”
— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) November 10, 2017
Khan said he had called for the review of form 696 because of concerns that it was unfairly affecting specific communities and genres of music.
“This decision will help London’s night-time economy thrive, ensure the capital is a welcoming place for artists and DJs of all music genres and that Londoners are able to enjoy live music safely,” he said.
Amy Lamé, London’s night tsar and chair of the London Music Board, said: “I welcome this fantastic decision by the Met to abolish form 696.
Over the past couple of months, the Met have worked tirelessly with me and my team at City Hall and with partners from across the London Music Board.
“I’m delighted that they’ve listened to the concerns of the industry, and of Londoners, to come to this solution – an important step to creating a safe, 24-hour city that truly works for everyone.”
A version of the form 696 is used by other forces in the UK, including Leicestershire and Bedfordshire – both of which ask for the genres of music played at events.