September 07, 2009

Met police bow to pressure to drop question on 'racist' form 696

Scotland Yard said today that it was altering a "potentially racist" form which asks clubs whether they play music popular with the black and Asian communities, after pressure from politicians, musicians and equality campaigners.

Form 696 – targeting violence at music venues – asks owners to provide the name, address and telephone numbers of artists and promoters, as well as the style of music to be played at forthcoming events.

In particular, the form gives "bashment, R&B, garage" as options – genres popular with black and Asian people.

A letter, with more than 50 signatories including Feargal Sharkey, chief executive at UK Music, was sent to the government's equality watchdog, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, at the end of August. It stated: "We are deeply concerned that Form 696 has the potential to be misused by the police to discriminate against ethnic minorities … There is now a danger that police across the country will adopt this measure and further entrench this illiberal and potentially racist practice."

Today Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, the head of the Yard's clubs and vice unit, announced that venues would no longer be asked for details of the music style. A requirement to provide the telephone number of the performing artist will also be dropped and an independent "scrutiny panel" will be set up to ensure that the form is not misused, Martin said.

"We have listened to the concerns about the form and we have now dropped the question about which type of music will be played – it really does not add anything," he said. "There were things on the form that we did not need. My only aim with this form was to make sure that if people went to music events then they stayed safe there and got home safely."

Sharkey, former lead singer of the Undertones, described the move as an "exercise in semantics" and demanded that the form be scrapped altogether.

He said it was clear that the altered version continued to target musicians from ethnic minorities and he objected strongly to a question which asks about the "make-up of the patrons".

"What is the club owner going to say: 'White, middle class Londoners'. I don't think so," Sharkey said. "These changes raise more questions than they answer. You have to ask how many violent crimes are linked to live music anyway.

"Why should the Met get the details of performers 14 days before an event. These changes will do nothing to alleviate the concerns of disenchanted young artists."

Sunny Hundal, editor of the political blog Liberal Conspiracy and organiser of the appeal to the EHRC, said that although the form was "voluntary", many events had applications for licences turned down after refusing to fill it in.

Last year eight music venues closed down after police highlighted fears of potential violence.

The Guardian


Anonymous said...

Something ought to also be done about Stop And Search to make sure it is not misused by over-zealous police.

Music Fan said...

If the BNP got into power, only nights playing Skredriver and Prussian Blue would be permitted.

Of, the pro-fash BBC would be scrapped, paying back the respect shown to them in a "biting the hand that feeds" way.

TurnLeft said...

Sharkey is NOT to be trusted.
The man is a proven liar, and is in the pay of the MAFIAA.