The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116646 Message #2546907
Posted By: Richard Bridge
23-Jan-09 - 08:35 AM
Thread Name: Form 696 - Anti music legislation
Subject: RE: Form 696 - Anti music legislation
From Hamish Birchall
The Metropolitan Police have again justified the use of Form 696, implying a strong link between gigs and shootings. Feargal Sharkey has responded with accusations that the police are abusing event licensing legislation.
Interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Today this morning (see 'listen' link and transcript below), Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, responsible for Form 696, said:
'... look at last year, [in] 2007 there were 36 shootings linked to licensed premises, 2008 there were 9. You know this is a tactic that works. It's something that's really successful. We very rarely close premises, but what it allows us to do is work with the promoter and provide a safe environment, and for me, you know, what price do you put on someone's safety?'
But the crucial question of whether there is any significant link between violent crime and live music was not pursued by Today presenter Evan Davis, who seemed inadequately briefed. The link between disorder and big screen football in bars is far stronger, and yet the government kept this form of entertainment out of event licensing. This was not mentioned.
Davis went on to interview Feargal Sharkey, but appeared to think it reasonable that licensees should face a potential criminal prosecution if full contact details of performers, dates of birth and styles of music are not disclosed to the police 14 days in advance of gigs. He made no mention of the Met's definition of qualifying events which is so broad it captures a harpist in a hotel lobby.
Sharkey made some good points: '... why are they isolating musicians in this case? And are they now suggesting that the next step will be that all Premier League football players playing in the capital city will have to provide their name, address, date of birth and contact telephone numbers to be screened by the Met Police at least 14 days of that match taking place?'
But neither Sharkey, nor Davis nor Chief Superintendent Martin appeared to understand that the mandatory risk assessments already required under health and safety legislation cover all the risks that might arise from putting on live music, including crime and disorder risks.
The petition calling on the Prime Minister to scrap Form 696 has over 13,700 signatures and is number 10 in the list of over 4000 petitions on the Number 10 website: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Scrapthe696/
BBC Radio 4 Today - Form 696 - Friday 23 January 2009 - 7.21-7.26am approx
Davis: Well I'm holding in my hand a Metropolitan Police Event Assessment Form, it's called number 696, and it's aimed at people engaging in the dangerous activity of playing live music [sound of pop music]. That's the sound of 'grime' music there, Tinchy Strider, Wiley and Chipmunk. Well, some in the live music industry are annoyed at the police for trying to get venues to fill out the four-page form which asks for details of the performers and the type of music played. In one version it even asks which ethnic group might be attending the gig. Well, we'll hear the complaints of Feargal Sharkey, the Chief Executive of UK Music in a moment, but here's what Detective Superintendent Richard Martin told the programme about why Form 696 is a good idea.
Martin: As with any kind of risk assessment or process, the more information that you can have of an event allows you to have a much more er accurate er assessment of what's going on and, er, you know this is not about any particular type of music, it's just asking what type of music are you playing, you know, what's the kind of audience, where are you playing, when are you playing, who's likely to be there, and I think you know you look at last year, 2007 there were 36 shootings linked to licensed premises, 2008 there were 9. You know this is a tactic that works. It's something that's really successful. We very rarely close premises, but what it allows us to do is work with the promoter and provide a safe environment, and for me, you know, what price do you put on someone's safety?
Davis: What price on safety. Well that's the police view on Form 696. Feargal Sharkey, singer, former singer, and er Chief Executive of UK Music is with me. So what is wrong with this form? I know you're cutting up quite a big fuss about it. It's just a form. It just asks you for the name of the performers, it does ask for their date of birth, contact telephone numbers. What's the big deal?
Sharkey: Er well, I think everybody would agree that something like the promotion of, the prevention of crime and disorder and public safety are incredibly important. And I've absolutely no doubt that's exactly why Parliament mandated that when you apply for a licence to either sell alcohol or provide live music you have to demonstrate on that application form exactly what it is you intend to do to prevent crime and disorder and promote public safety. Under the er system mandated by Parliament the local police have then 28 days to object to that application should they think you are not doing enough, and request that the local authority attach further conditions to your licence to help you. The simple truth is, it leads me to jump to the simple conclusion that 21 local authorities in London and the Metropolitan Police aren't happy or don't think that the system...
Davis: So this is extra on top of your normal sort of...
Sharkey: Exactly. And...
Davis: Your, you think that it aimed at particular groups and particular kinds of music.
Sharkey: Well the curious bit was in its original form that question 'What type of', 'Are there any ethnic minorities going to be attending this event, if so please state which'.
Davis: Right, I mean they have removed that, they have removed that question haven't they. I think that was after you started cutting up rough...
Sharkey: They have indeed and they have now replaced it with 'Please state the target audience', and I just have a nagging suspicion that white middle class professionals might get a slightly different reaction...
Davis: Actually it says 'Who is the target audience, include here if birthday party', erm of course I means it's unusual I suppose...
Sharkey: Well I'm pleased to see that the Met Police have got so much to do in their lives that they think a birthday party might be some kind of a risk to the fabric of society.
Davis: But have any events been unable to proceed because of this form?
Sharkey: The short answer is yes.
Sharkey: And we are aware of one, and ironically enough it was a local councillor trying to do something to help young people in his local area who'd organised an event on a Saturday afternoon involving young unsigned local musicians at which they have a maximum audience of 500 people, and the police objected, and I do have a copy of the letter, because the young musicians refused to hand over their name, their address and their date of birth, and their contact telephone numbers, and, to quote the Metropolitan Police, they objected most strongly to that application.
Davis: Because they wouldn't hand over their dates of birth and their address...
Sharkey: Correct. I think...
Davis: I suppose it could be seen as an intrusion of civil liberties to be asking for that information, but it's not a terribly onerous thing to ask. It's not like asking for their sort of, you know...
Sharkey: Well I think it's a curious thing because why are they isolating musicians in this case? And are they now suggesting that the next step will be that all Premier League football players playing in the capital city will have to provide their name, address, date of birth and contact telephone numbers to be screened by the Met Police at least 14 days of that match taking place? [Davies: Well...] Quite clearly the things like that are potentially an issue. Quite what that's got to do with the musicians and why the Metropolitan Police think they can abuse an existing piece of legislation like this I think I will be discussing with the licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe and the local government association at some length.
Davis: You should see the risk assessment forms we have to fill out here [Sharkey laughs]. Feargal Sharkey thank you very much indeed.
Sharkey: Thank you.