“Racist licensing policies” are returning to London’s venues and businesses according to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA).
The industry body has accused the Met Police of reintroducing elements of the outlawed Form 696, a form of risk assessment that required police to request personal information of artists and promoters as well as the style of music that would be played at an event.
Fears were raised by Mayor Sadiq Khan in 2017, ahead of its eventual phasing out, that the form was allowing the Met to unfairly target grime nights.
The form was introduced in 2005 with the aim to target violence in music venues working as a risk assessment prior to events.
Feargal Sharkey, chief executive at UK Music, told The Guardian in 2009 that Form 696 has “the potential to be misused by the police to discriminate against ethnic minorities”.
NTIA members have also reported that they have had threats of a licensing review held over their heads by the Met Police if they do not provide the information requested and in extreme cases closure notices.
According to the NTIA, the police “predominantly target certain music genres. i.e UK garage, drum 'n' bass, grime and hip hop”.
The rise in reports is claimed to be the Met “reimplementing a discriminatory policy by stealth,” says NTIA CEO Michael Kill.
Mr Kill told Mixmag that “Over the last 6 months through our membership and the wider industry we have seen a rise in discussion between Police and Operators around high-risk events and the requirement by Police for information not too dissimilar to the requirements around the 696 form.”
“Discussions we have had so far, majority of venues are not being told not to run events, but there is a stark warning by Police for venues and promoters who continue to put an event on which they would deem high risk, with an uncomfortable conversation around potential impact if there are issues on the night.”
“Our sector fought so hard to try to eradicate this unjust practice, and to establish a collaborative approach to licensing that worked with promoters and venues rather than targeting them.”
“I know that the Met will say they are only interested in the ‘risk’ that any given event poses, but this is hugely susceptible to racist biases on the part of police officers – conscious or otherwise – seeping into judgments that are being taken about, for example, whether a certain event ought to go ahead.”
Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter