Feargal Sharkey, CEO of music industry umbrella group U.K. Music, has hit out at the Metropolitan Police's requirements for licensing of music events, during a Parliamentary hearing.

Sharkey was giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee in the House Of Commons. During the session, he revealed that at least a dozen London councils have followed police guidance on risk assessment of live music.

The Metropolitan Police Form 696 requires details of the type of music and the names, aliases, phone numbers and addresses of performers 14 days in advance as part of any license application. One London council has invoked prevention of terrorism in its licensing guidelines for live events.

Sharkey told Billboard.biz that U.K. Music was concerned about the effects of such demands, particularly on small-scale events.

"They [police and councils] need to go back and amend those licensing policy statements and review this system," he said. "Quite frankly they should probably stand up and publicly apologize to every young musician and performer in this town. Should that not happen, U.K. Music potentially does have the ability to take them to the High Court for judicial review."

While individual London councils license music events, they base their decisions on the advice of police.

Speaking after the committee hearing, Sharkey told Billboard.biz: "We learned that the Metropolitan Police, in conjunction with an organization called London Councils - a representative body for all London borough - at the end of last year jointly wrote to all 33 local London boroughs recommending that they insert some particular wording into their local licensing policy statements."

Sharkey cited one such statement from Hillingdon Council in west London, which he says "tries to make a direct connection not only between crime and disorder and live music, but most astonishingly - I'm still knocked over in disbelief - between live music and the prevention of terrorism."

The Hillingdon policy statement, adopted by the council in November 2007, states: "In the interest of public order and the prevention of terrorism, the Licensing Authority would expect that for significant events, a comprehensive risk assessment is undertaken by premises licence holders to ensure that crime and disorder and public safety matters are identified and addressed."

Sharkey says he's also concerned about the singling out of urban music genres "bashment, R&B and garage" as examples on the 'music style' section of the Metropolitan Police Form 696

"It might be a happy coincidence, but those are three musical styles that by and large would probably appeal to a large audience of young black or Asian people living in London," he said.

Of the demands for performers' personal details at least 14 days in advance of a show, Sharkey said: "This is just an extraordinary idea and I'm absolutely staggered that they thought this through at all and, more important, potentially up to 12 London boroughs have actually tried to implement this policy. I think it's acting way outside the law."

Sharkey said Westminster and Islington councils, which both license well-known music venues, had signed up to the Met's guidelines.

The former singer of punk band The Undertones was specifically addressing MPs about the impact of the 2003 Licensing Act.

He voiced concerns to Billboard.biz about police statements during the passage of the legislation linking music events with crime, and said there has been "inconsistency" with how the Act has been applied across the U.K. Sharkey cited the example of Moonfest, where in August Wiltshire Police used section 160 of the Act to prevent alt-rock act Babyshambles, featuring Pete Doherty, performing at the event.

Superintendent Paul Williams of Wiltshire Police said at the time the band's tendency to "speed up and then slow down the music" could create a "whirlpool effect" and spark disorder. It is believed to be the first time the 2003 Act has been used in such a way.

Sharkey also told the committee that the bureaucracy and cost involved for a new live music license as a result of the Act was damaging pubs, clubs and bars.

"The point I was putting across is that it is true that live music in the U.K. has blossomed in the last five or six years, but that we were still very concerned and now firmly believe that the smaller, informal gigs in those little bars and clubs, wine bars and restaurants, are being impacted upon by this legislation," he said. "The government now needs to intervene and amend that legislation."

Sharkey is suggesting an exemption in the legislation for any premises with a capacity of less than 200 people from any requirement to have a license for live music.

The Metropolitan Police was unable to comment.

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