Culture minister writes to London Mayor over claims Form 696 'singles out' grime

Culture minister writes to London Mayor over claims Form 696 'singles out' grime

Culture minister Matt Hancock has written to London Mayor Sadiq Khan to raise his concerns over Met Police risk assessment form 696, claiming it can be used to “single out” certain music genres such as grime.

The form, which is just used in London, requests that names, stage names, private addresses, and phone numbers of all promoters, DJs and artists be listed for an event that “predominantly features DJs or MCs performing to a recorded backing track”.

“It is clear that the way in which the form is being used can single out certain genres of music and may be deterring the staging of some events," said Hancock (pictured), in his letter to Khan. 

“I am concerned that the form is not only potentially stifling young artists and reducing the diversity of London’s world renowned musical offering, but is also having a negative impact on London’s night time economy by pushing organisers and promoters of urban music events to take them outside London.”

Likening grime’s impact to that of punk in the 1970s, Hancock added: “I strongly believe that we should be encouraging and embracing all musical genres, building on London's rich musical history as the city that gave us the Kinks, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and Amy Winehouse.

“I would like to understand whether you think form 696 is serving a justified purpose and working well, or whether there is a case for changing the current system.” 

The original form asked for details of ethnic groups likely to attend the performance, but that section was removed in 2008.

UK Music chief executive Jo Dipple welcomed Hancock’s intervention. “UK Music thanks the Minister who has a track record of stepping in to support British musicians,” she said. “It is important to make sure form 696 is not being unfairly used against particular musical genres. Discrimination against any musician damages all of us. It reduces the diversity of our output and limits our ability to reach our economic potential.

“We ask that anyone with first-hand experience of misuse of form 696 contacts UK Music. British music is successful because it is diverse. It is right that Government is stepping in on this issue and we will work with the Minister, the Mayor’s office and the Metropolitan Police to properly examine and address any misuse of this form. It must be emphasised that this is not a criticism of the Met Police who do amazing work in very difficult circumstances.” 

Hancock’s letter to the Mayor reads as follows: 

Dear Sadiq,

I would like to raise some concerns I have about the use of form 696 and the potential impact this is having on London’s grassroots music scene. 

Through meetings my team have held with a range of music industry representatives, it is clear that the way in which the form is being used can single out certain genres of music and may be deterring the staging of some events.

I am concerned that the form is not only potentially stifling young artists and reducing the diversity of London’s world renowned musical offering, but is also having a negative impact on London’s night time economy by pushing organisers and promoters of urban music events to take them outside London. This form is just used in London and not other UK cities.

I appreciate that form 696 is a risk assessment designed to allow the management of licensed premises, promoters of music events, event security and the police to work in partnership to identify and minimise any risk of serious crime happening at a proposed event. But I’m sure you will agree that anything which has the potential to impact negatively on free expression and London’s economy while denying young people the opportunity to attend and perform at certain events, needs careful consideration.

Genres of urban music like Grime have the same significance for today’s young people as punk did in the 1970s, empowering them, creating a new generation of musical heroes and growing to become a worldwide phenomenon. I strongly believe that we should be encouraging and embracing all musical genres, building on London's rich musical history as the city that gave us the Kinks, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and Amy Winehouse.

I would like to understand whether you think form 696 is serving a justified purpose and working well, or whether there is a case for changing the current system. 

It was really helpful for the Secretary of State and me to meet up with your team last month to discuss the areas that crossover our responsibilities. We would both welcome an opportunity to set up a similar meeting soon, where we could discuss this and other issues. If you are in agreement, the Secretary of State's office will contact yours to arrange our next catch up. 

I am copying this letter to the Night Czar, London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture, UK Music, British Underground, and the Musicians Union.

Yours ever,

[Matt Hancock]

Rt Hon Matthew Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture

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