What was Form 696?

Summer 2021 saw the Horniman play host to a programme of live music events, a day festival, and a resident artist programme, for 696. But what was form 696?

Form 696 was a risk assessment that the Metropolitan Police introduced in 2005 in 21 London boroughs.

It was for promoters and organisers of music events that featured DJs or MCs. It drew criticism for its racist tone.

Although filling out the form was described as ‘voluntary’ when applying for a license for an event, promoters who did not submit the form 14 days in advance of their event found that their license was refused. Promoters who did fill out the form often found that their night was shut down or refused a license for inadequate or unexplained reasons anyway.

Questions on the form included asking for the stage and real names, addresses and phone numbers of all performers, as well as questions about the ethnicity of the audience. Questions concerning the music styles being performed had ‘bashment, R&B, Garage’ given as possible answers.

The form was designed so that the Met police could monitor safety, and make recommendations for higher risk events. However, as journalist Dan Hancox puts it in this Guardian article from 2009, ‘the problem is that the Met are lone arbiters of what kind of music is high risk.’

Opposition to form 696

There were many objections to the form from musicians, promoters, bands and the Equality and Human Rights commission.

In 2008 former Undertones singer and head of the organisation UK Music Feargal Sharkey, gave evidence to the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the discriminatory nature of the form, particularly in its targeting of music styles favoured by Black and Asian teenagers.

In 2009 the form was changed again, so that questions regarding the telephone numbers of acts, the music styles being performed and the ethnicities of the audience were removed.

However the form itself remained in place, as did the intrinsic problems with it.

Removal of form 696

In 2017 the form was completely scrapped by London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

At the same time it was found that similar forms were being used in other police forces around the country, including in Leicestershire, West Yorkshire and Hertfordshire.

In place of form 696 the Met police introduced a ‘voluntary partnership approach’ for venues and promoters, hoping that venues willingly sharing information would allow them to keep people safe.

Lead image: Lex Amor performing at the Balamii bandstand concerts at the Horniman, taken by Ray Amoah.