The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has revealed that he will be scrapping the controversial Form 696, which many critics have dubbed discriminatory in the past. The form was established in 2005 by the Metropolitan Police after a series of nightclub shootings in London, and the document subsequently required promoters to divulge the names and contact details of the performers involved in the events. While the MET force emphasised the security and safety dimension of the procedure, others labelled it as a racist practice because it specifically asked for the ethnicity of the crowd and the musical genre of the night. These questions were no longer present after 2009, but their removal didn’t quiet the suspicions in the minds of many grime artists and their fans- who were most heavily affected by event closures- that these forms were still out to unfairly target them.
Despite the MET pointing to statistics showing that the amount of serious incidents have declined and been prevented because of this form, the Mayor of London decided to proceed with a review of the evidence anyway. In a statement on the 10th of November, Sadiq Khan said that he “called for a review of Form 696 earlier this year because of concerns raised by promoters and artists in the capital that this process was unfairly affecting specific communities and music genres”. As a result of the appraisal, there will now be a new voluntary alliance introduced for venues in London that will be used instead of the form. A fresh co-operative partnership between representatives of the capital’s music industries and the Met was strongly encouraged by the mayor. He hopes that his plans will revitalise London’s club night time economy and make the atmosphere for musicians more hospitable than it may have been in the past.
There has been widespread jubilation from fans of ‘urban’ genres over this news, but it should be remembered that ‘the safety of the public’ will usually trump all other objections made, if the authorities really want to close an event down.
Article by Yohannes Lowe.