London Scraps 'Racist' Live Music Regulation That Critics Said Targeted Grime and R&B Artists

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London, England.

A controversial U.K. regulation which critics say unfairly targets grime, garage and R&B artists has been abolished by London’s Metropolitan Police.

Since 2005, promoters in the British capital have been asked to complete a "Form 696 Risk Assessment" document when staging live events predominantly involving DJs and MCs.

The form requires promoters or licensees to provide the name, address, date of birth and phone number for each artist performing. Until 2009, when the process was revised, it also requested information about the type or genre of music being played and, most controversially, the ethnic make-up of the audience that an event was likely to attract.

Those questions were removed amid complaints that the form was being used to racially profile audiences and unfairly discriminate against music popular with black and Asian audiences.

A number of artists have also claimed the information provided to police via Form 696 has led to shows being cancelled at the last minute. In 2010, British rapper Giggs -- who’s long been a vocal critic of the regulation -- had his tour cancelled following police advice. London grime MC P Money has also stated that he’s had gigs pulled as a direct result of Form 696, which was originally introduced by the Metropolitan Police following a spate of shootings at club nights across London.

Earlier this year, London mayor Sadiq Khan called for a review of Form 696 in response to repeated concerns from promoters and artists. 

“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,” said a statement from the Metropolitan Police announcing that, after a review with stakeholders and representatives from across London’s live music industry, Form 696 was finally being scrapped. 

In its place, Met Police will “develop a new voluntary partnership approach for venues and promoters across London,” said superintendent Roy Smith.

“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,” said Khan.

News that Form 696 was being abolished was also welcomed by British trade bodies the Musicians Union and umbrella organization UK Music.   

“It’s great that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London’s Night Czar Amy Lamé have listened to the concerns of the music industry," stated UK Music CEO Michael Dugher, who said the development would help ensure that “London remains a world beater when it comes to our cultural music mix.”

Earlier this year, New York City lawmakers repealed the so-called Cabaret Law, which had also been accused of racial discrimination. First enacted in 1926, the anti-dancing law originated as an attempt to police Harlem's 1920s jazz clubs and continued to be enforced unfairly, critics argued.


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