Representatives from London's Metropolitan Police have attributed a drop in the number of London's club-related shootings to the controversial Form 696, a risk assessment scheme that requires details of live music events to be handed over to police by venues in consultation with promoters at least two weeks in advance of an event.

Music industry group U.K. Music has joined with artists in campaigning against the scheme, while last week the U.K. Culture, Media and Sport Committee called for the policing system to be scrapped, describing it as an "increasingly authoritarian approach."

However, police defended the system at a panel session during the annual Brighton music conference and festival the Great Escape (which ran May 14 to 16). One in 20 shootings now occur in or around licensed premises, down from one in six at the beginning of 2007, according to the Met.

"The development of 696 has undoubtedly contributed to lowering shootings in these venues," said Thomas Bowen, who leads the Met Police's 696 team.

Chief Inspector Adrian Studd, of the Met Police Clubs and Vice Unit, added that there had been an 11% reduction in crime around live venues this year.

Form 696 requests personal details from performers, including a telephone number and address, at least 14 days before an event. It is used as part of a risk assessment by the Met Police, which then advises individual councils on an event's suitability for a license.

However, the form has courted controversy in recent months from members of the U.K. live industry who believe the form is damaging and unnecessary. Steve Forster, managing director of Mama Live, which operates a network of live music venues including the HMV Apollo and the HMV Forum in London, expressed his concerns as he appeared alongside Bowen and Studd at the conference.

"Form 696 is a particularly narrow piece of paperwork which largely focuses on what police perceive as a promoter and what they think an event is," he said. "This detracts from the more important issues." According to Forster, the focus should instead be on "high risk events."

In response, Studd said it needs to be narrow because, as police, they are "looking for crime and disorder."

Citing the recent example of a concert from an American R&B singer on Sony Music's roster, Forster explained that after police deemed the event "high risk," they then put the responsibility of any violence in the area on Mama Live's shoulders. The concert, which attracted 80% females between 14 and 21 years old, went ahead without incident yet left Forster with "a sour taste in my mouth."

There is also concern that Form 696 groups certain music genres together. On the form, "Bashment, R&B and Garage" -- all popular within black and Asian communities in the U.K. -- are used as examples of music styles.

On the panel, Bowen also confirmed that "black on black" shootings was a chief factor behind the system's creation.

"Gang warfare is not relevant to pop concerts," said Forster.

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