Police have been accused of unfairly targeting and discriminating against the urban music scene in a report made public by the Guardian on 9 January.
An anonymous booking agent told The Guardian that police insisted on searching 18 performers for weapons with an airport-style scanner at a recent, major event before they were allowed to go on stage. A group of young people on work experience were also searched.
Police told event organisers they had intelligence about an artist due to perform, but would not specify which one, saying they all needed to be searched.
The police’s risk assessment of urban music events is based on the ethnicity of the audience and artists, according to industry figures. Police can ask for strict safety measures to be put in place on the basis of this risk assessment and if they really want to piss people off, cancel gigs at short notice. And grime artist Giggs will be the first to tell you that he has been a victim more than once to the police’s unfair discrimination.
John Whittingdale, chair of the culture, media and sport committee in the House of Commons has called for the abolition of the “discriminatory and completely unnecessary” Form 696, which he says “is still being used by the Met to target particular types of music”.
Sarah McKinley, founder of Xtreme Talent Artist Agency, an urban booking agency, said the use of form 696, was not being conducted sensibly.
Often the risk assessment happens after the night has been advertised. People have already spent money and then the night can get pulled. The police think these artists are doing gigs for fun, but it’s a living, it’s the way they support their families. If a fight breaks out it could then mean next time the DJ may fail the 696 form. It causes a stigma against that DJ and then people are scared to book them. I’ve never known a club to have to do a 696 for a normal, non-black event.