Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Form 696

The Guardian reported today on another little chip off the freedoms of British folk. I'm beginning to think the British government has a bit of a thing about not letting people do what they want. I've mentioned it before.
The Guardian says:
It sounds like an innocuous piece of paperwork, but in the last two months "Stop form 696!" has become the rallying cry of the live music industry. Risk assessment form 696 is used by the Metropolitan police when trouble is expected at a gig or club. It requests information about performers and audience members from the licensee. Failure to submit it could result in six months in jail or a £20,000 fine.

Form 696 has been approved by all 21 London councils, and its use could soon spread to the rest of the UK. It has attracted criticism not least because it is bureaucratic: while it has now been cut from eight pages to four, it still demands every performer's name, address, date of birth and phone number. It's hard enough to get a musician to answer the phone, let alone fill in a mini-census every time they perform.

Form 696's ulterior motives have also raised concerns. One question on the eight page version suggested it was being used to racially profile audiences: "Is there a particular ethnic group attending? If 'yes', please state group."
Is a particular ethnic group attending? What's it to you, PC Plod?

It's difficult to think of a counter to this insanity. After all, live music is a business, not a gathering of free speech enthusiasts, and all governments have the right to regulate commerce - although you'd think they'd regulate the real thugs first, like banks and credit card issuers, and leave musicians alone for a while.

I keep on getting the eerie feeling that this isn't the same world I grew up in. And it's not Al Qa'ida that's wrecking it.

Thanks to C for the heads up on this article.

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