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Met: We shan't scrap Form 696

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The Metropolitan Police is congratulating itself for removing a question from Form 696, the controversial initiative "risk assessment" that allows London police to demand information from promoters. The police have also dropped the requirement that every performer and musician provide a phone number 14 days in advance of every gig.

But the Met continues to defy MPs who have called for the mammoth bureaucratic exercise in data gathering - which far exceeds the police's authority - to be scrapped. Failure to fill out Form 696 puts the venue at risk, police told us last year.

Form 696 was quietly introduced last year with the co-operation of over 20 local authorities, as a "risk assessment". It singled out ethnic and urban music and according to UK Music chief Feargal Sharkey, made an implicit and unwarranted association between live music and the "war on terror".

The form states:

Completing this document will enable police to give you appropriate support and advice to ensure a safe event. Full honest disclosure forms part of the risk assessment and will not in itself jeopardise the event. Full co-operation is regarded as demonstrating positive and effective venue management.

In May, the MPs Committee for Culture, Media and Sport called for Form 696 to be scrapped. It also separately called for the Licensing Act "to remove the overt linkage of live music with public disorder" on the basis that it couldn't be justified: misfiring car alarms cause more disorder than live music, MPs said.

Over 10,000 were processed in a year, the Met told us last November.

Form 696 creates a new mountain of red tape for venues and promoters. As MPs heard earlier this year, music licensing also costs local taxpayers money, as administration far outweighs the fees venues pay. But it does give beat-weary Police something to do. ®

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