London Police Scraps Controversial ‘Anti Grime’ Form

London’s Metropolitan Police no longer requires promoters and venue operators to fill out the so-called 696 Form, which had been required for gigs involving DJs or MCs performing to a backing track.  

Dizzee Rascal
AP Photo
– Dizzee Rascal
Gets his point across at Glastonbury.

Filling out the form was voluntary, except for certain venues, which had the use it as a condition on their premises license. Pollstar has requested a list of those venues from the MET.

Music event organizers as well as the management of license premises had to fill out the form if they held an event that was promoted to the public at any time before the event, predominantly featuring DJs or MCs performing to a recorded backing track, and ran between the hours of 10pm and 4am in a nightclub or large public house.

Form 696 was originally introduced in 2005 “in response to a number of shootings at promoted club nights across London,” according to the MET, which claims that “there is no doubt that over the last decade a number of serious incidents have been prevented through the effective exchange of information, advice and intelligence between the Met, promoters and venue managers as part of this process.”

However, police acknowledged concerns raised by professionals working in London’s music industry and pointing out that the form disproportionately affected certain genres of music.

And not just by professionals working in the business. Almost half of respondents (48 percent) to a recent Ticketmaster study on grime in the UK said Form 696 was discriminatory because it is only applied to specific events. Grime is a style of British hip hop made popular by artists like Dizzee Rascal and Skepta.

The survey was conducted by Ticketmaster’s LiveAnalytics division in partnership with the University of Westminster as well as Disrupt Creative, the creators of the UK’s first grime-focused awards ceremony. They questioned some 2,000 members of the British public about their perceptions of grime music.

Even before the study’s findings were published in October, London Mayor Sadiq Khan had been calling for a review of Form 696 after noting “concerns raised by promoters and artists that this process was unfairly affecting specific communities and music genres.”

Maybe more controversial than the fact the form only targets certain event types was the requirement to fill in real names, date of births and addresses not just of the venue and the promoter but every act that was expected to take the stage.

The MET’s superintendent, Roy Smith, said London’s nighttime economy had changed in recent years.

“Thankfully we have seen a reduction in serious incidents at promoted music events, particularly those involving firearms. We have also been working in close partnership with the music industry and others to raise standards of safety in venues and at events.”

Venues and promoters can now voluntarily work with police prior to events where they think there’s going to be an actual risk. Smith said the “new voluntary partnership approach” would  provide an “excellent opportunity to share information at a local level and work to identify any enhanced risk to ensure the safety of the public.”

London’s Night Czar Amy Lamé and deputy mayor for culture Justine Simons were instrumental in negotiating with Smith to remove the form.

Said Kahn: “By bringing together the Met and representatives from across the city’s legendary grassroots music industry, we have shown why having a Night Czar is so important for London. 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.”