Saturday, 6 December 2008

You want to sing some songs? Where was your granddad from?

Just spotted this little nugget on the Crossroads Blues Club website

Read the article, and come to your own conclusions. As far as I can tell the form, if it becomes a reality, only effects London but there are likely to be similar things happening around the country. Even if it does only effect the capital, then it could have a very unpleasant consequences for musicians and music lovers in the UK, as so many important venues are in London.

I don't like the sound of this for a few reasons.

One, as the article eludes to, asking questions such as is there "a particular ethnic group attending?" in order to predict where trouble is going to happen seems to border on ethnic stereotyping doesn't it?

Two, I don't like the Police having any more powers to know who is what and every one's back story. The form asks for performers' names, aliases, private addresses and phone numbers, why? I've been accused of being dramatic before now on this kind of thing, and it's very cliched and boring to use the word "Orwellian" but, you know, how Orwellian is this??? Will it mean that the police will need to know everything about performers or they can't play?, why, it's a free country isn't it?

Three, the forms will be filled in by someone at the venue, so all this personal information could be seen by anyone, is that such a good idea?

Four, surely many venues will say no thanks to all this new paperwork won't they, and more live music outlets will be gone. While we're talking about that, read this

The police themselves have defended form 696 thusly "It wasn't about the music, it wasn't about the venue, it wasn't about the promotion it was because gangs were associated with those particular events." They seem to be saying that the powers are to enable them to attack knife and gun crime at particular venues by particular gangs. Another problem, and this goes back to Mr Orwell, is that once such powers exist they can be used to ends different to those imagined when they were created. Think 90 days without charge, think prosecuted under Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 for reading the names of servicemen killed in Iraq by the Cenotaph, think arrested under the terror act for stopping tube lift with your foot...

Anyhow, what do you think. If you feel strongly against it, sign this petition


dunc said...

I've been trying to find a bit more information on this, as the Indy article was outrage heavy and fact light.

As with everything it'd have to go through Parliement to become a legal requirement. As far as I understand that's not happed and is not going to happen. It's a completely un-enforcable piece of legislation too.

Currently it seems The Met are asking for it voluntarily as part of the risk assessment for larger gigs (but remember - it's up to you to decide how best to manage risk at your night, not the Met)

Doesn't mean its not a vile bit of paper though which should be outed for the piece of rubbish it is though.

Robert Lane said...

Hi Dunc
Solid fact does seem a little heard to come by.

It seems that the form has been used on a voluntary basis by councils for a month or more, and despite the fact that it's not a requirement, there are whispers on the wind that it has led to the police cancelling shows at venues that are taking part. (Or it could be that concerts organised by councils themselves have been affected) I've no idea how truthful the whispers are though.

Your right that it would be hard for the scheme to be enforced, although I still suspect that some venues might decide to take the easiest option, and not bother with live music at all.

I'm not certain what stage the legislation is at.

I'm enjoying your Blog by the way.