This week I made a feature with our Channel 4 News team about the controversial 696 Form. You can watch the TV feature here;
The 696 form is a form invented by THE MET POLICE in the early noughties, after some violence at garage gigs in London.
Since then, its been used by police forces across the UK, and stopped many acts from performing to live audiences, thereby stopping career progression and young musicians making a decent living.
The form asks for ”genre” of music info, and only affects music that is performed with a DJ or MC and recorded backing track, usually impacting just grime, rap, hip hop, reggae and basement genres.
Artists like So Solid Crew and Giggs, amongst many others, have been affected over the years. Even incisive black festivals like AFROPUNK, where names like Nadia Rose was perfuming last week were made to fit in the form this year with a fear that it could have also been cancelled.
JASMINE WITH NADIA ROSE WHO PERFORMED AT AFROPUNK.
Now for the first time, an MP and Minister for the Arts has stepped in to try and scrap or reform the form.
JASMINE WITH MP/DCMS MINISTER MATT HANCOCK.
MP and MINISTER FOR THE DCMS – Matt Hancock – department of digital, culture, media and sport told me the following.
Why did you decide to write an open letter to sadiq khan about the 696 form?
I’ve been worried about 696 for some time but there’s a real problem for live music venues coming under pressure. The more and more evidence I got that this form is not just difficult to fill in, it stops people putting on live music in the 1st place, before they come to fill it in. so there’s evidence that it’s a barrier. It stops people putting live music on…I love live music. I think grime scene is brilliant and I want to do everything I can to support it and I think ending 696 is part of answer.
What’s your main concern around the form, the impact on our economy or is it stifling young talent?
I think it’s both and the two increasingly come together. The eco depends on our creative industries and music is one of our best industries. It’s an amazing export and sells around the world. Also for young people their way into the world of work so it’s not either or. ending form 696 would help our economy but more importantly it would make sure that London would be more vibrant.
Do you think your involvement can change anything; with respect, do you have the power to change anything?
We don’t have power to end 696 – the mayor of London does so I’ve written to mayor of London to request that he ends this form . He’s got power to do it, it’s in his hands and I hope that he takes the action that’s necessary.
For many people they think the form is racist- do you think its racist?
Well the form definitely puts off people from black and min ethnic backgrounds from putting on music and I know that it has that impact and when u talk to ppl it’s mostly people from black and min ethnic backgrounds who are concerned about the form, and who tell me that they haven’t put things on ’cause they didn’t want to fill the form in. and I think that making sure that everybody has the chance, to put on their music and support live music from every community, is a really important part of Britain and making sure we have best diversity we have.
So you do think its racist?
What I would say is that it does disproportionately affects people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.
The reality is that British black artists tell us that when they perform at festivals with mostly a white audience they don’t have to fill this form in, but if its to a black audience, they do. So clearly there’s a race agenda?
There’s no doubt that grime is disproportionately made by people from minority backgrounds and I’m not going to get into the use of the more extreme language around this, but I do understand where people are coming from and what I’d say it has a disproportionate impact on people from minority backgrounds.
If you were in power would you scrap the form completely or what would you do to change it?
I think mayor has responsibility to of course look after policing in capital but also to make sure that policing is fair to everybody so yes I think he should end this form.
Have you spoken to The Met about this yourself?
I’ve seen the response from the Met and frankly I don’t think that it justifies the blockage that’s in place because of this form.
Finally, Mayor Sadiq Khan did respond to your letter saying to let the MET Police do their job, but ultimately this isn’t just a London issue is it, with police forces all over the country having their own version of the form, it’s a nationwide issue therefore deserves a government response?
I’ve been very disappointed by the Mayor of London’s response and I’m writing him again, and it may be true in some other cities there is a similar problem, we’ve got to look for the evidence. I think that the evidence in London is clear and that’s where action needs to be taken.
Next I spoke to grime artist P Money who drove us around South London whilst telling us his own experience with the 696 form.
Here’s what he told us.
I’ve been in this game for 12 years and I’ve performed all other London, Leeds, Nottingham, Manchester, Southampton even Scotland, Cardiff.
The vibe at my shows and festivals is quite a mixed vibe – you have so many people from diff places. Sometimes I get people from Wales come down to London. It’s like a strong following. I feel like I know them. Like long distance friends.
Personally I think the 696 has been set up to stop events, raves parties from ethnic backgrounds, because I haven’t witnessed it in any other type of music where it’s from black orientated sounds and the crowd as well. Grime started off like that, it’s changed now and I haven’t really witnessed what we go through in any other sort of genre or types of raves.
The proof that I got is when you try to put on a grime night it was told no. When you put on a night and you give it a different name it gets the go ahead.
To get away with putting a night on you have to not mention grime. Sometimes you have to mask a guest as a special guest and not actually say their name because of fears that they might not pass the 696 form. Sometimes we list a whole load of music, r & B, hip hop make it as if there’s a whole load of music being played to get the go ahead but we can’t actually say it’s just a grime night.
It makes me feel annoyed and kinda angry . If feel like we’re targeted, because it doesn’t happen in anything else, it only happens with us. So I feel like we’re targeted. Grime artists, fans, and supporters. It makes me feel like we’re casted out.
A lot of my peers and artists that I know have felt like it can be a race thing. Most of the artists are black, most of the fan base at first were black as well, when this was happening on a regular basis, so we do have reasons for why we feel like that.
Last year I was booked to do festival in Leeds, and I was told they’re pulling me and two other acts off the line up. They were DJ’s and they were pulling us off line up. They didn’t have any explanation. They refused to tell us why. They just said they’re pulling grime. I didn’t see any reason why. I have performed in Leeds a number of times. There was a whole load of acts at the festival but they only wanted to pull us off.
It almost makes you feel like a criminal. What have I done? Why is this being done to me? What have I done that’s so bad? Why am I being taken off the line up? This is my only way of earning money. I don’t have a 9-5 job. This is my job. You’re not giving me any explanation whatsoever. The festival organisers have no choice.
I always challenge these decisions. Even when they take me off the line up in Leeds. I demanded a reason. I speak to whoever is in charge. But still they don’t have to respond they abuse their power. What can u really say to police? They make you feel hopeless. The moment u raise your voice a bit, they paint you out to be a criminal that you’re doing something wrong when you’re just trying to get answers. And a lot of my other peers feel like that. We tweet about it. Not once will we ever get answers.
I’m always fearful of repercussions, because if they have power to stop you from doing a show and now you’re challenging them, there’s nothing stopping them from doing that at any show. They can paint you out to be against them. As if they’re their job is to protect people. If you’re against them they can stop all your shows. It’s scary knowing there’s someone out there with that power that can just do that.
It affects young people. This is the young music of today. Some people grew up with hip-hop. This is what young people listen to today. This is what keeps them occupied. It makes them feel good. We educate people. You’re affecting a lot of people. I’ve flown to Bosnia and have no problems performing there.
I can only see where the police are coming from if they say safety issue, if they have an advance warning that something is going to happen. Something can happen anywhere. You don’t know where something can happen. You are assuming something is going to happen at a grime festival. That’s wrong. It’s not about safety. It should be for everything then.
If you’re gonna give us the 696 form then you need to give it to everyone. Beyoncé should fill out a 696 form cos who’s to say there isn’t gonna be a fight at her concert? There are thousands of football hooligans – we don’t have grime hooligans.
When the minister wrote his letter to the Mayor it made me feel better. But we have got a long way to go. Even a minister can write a letter and be dismissed. Someone with more power than me is on our side but even he’s being dismissed.
If I could give a message to Sadiq Khan. I would say that he needs to come to our kind of festival. See what they are destroying. You’re going to turn people against you . You’re going to turn people against the police. People are looking for any excuse. You’re taking music away from people. I don’t understand since when did music hurt people. Don’t blame the music. If a fight happens it’s the people who are to blame not the musician. It’s not the musician teling people to fight. Sadiq needs to be in the mix and see what’s really going on.
If the form was scrapped. It would mean the world to me. It’s how I earn my money, how I pay my mortgage, how I look after my son. Everyone else doesn’t have the same worries.
It’s only a matter of time for someone who feels so strongly whether it’s a protest, whether it’s a riot. This is how these things happen because of miscommunication and misunderstanding. At the moment it feels like they’re not trying to understand us at all. The 696 form would be a massive progression to actually understanding and building something,. Between fans, festival goeer and met police who claim they’re only watching out for our safety.
When I perform at Reading and Leeds festival, I’m not asked to fill out a 696 form. If I perform at Oceania nightclub there’s no 696. If I perform in Croydon, where there’s black kids, it comes up automatically. That alone makes us think you’re targeting black people.
It affects us socially. You’re segregating us. You’re stopping black people having fun. You cancelled our rave. You’re against us. Music brings people together. Doesn’t matter what colour you are. it’s backwards to wanna stop that. When I’m onstage I see thousands of people singing together, why would you wanna stop that?
I think it’s crazy that festivals like afropunk are having to fill out a 696.
I highly doubt that Ed Sheeran has to do a 696 form.
They say it’s safety I just think the rules they apply to our events should be applied to every single event if it’s about safety.
With enough of us all uniting to speak up about this and come to a fairer way of dealing with it nothing will change. Thank to Jonathan Badyal for his support in pushing through this issue with Government.
JASMINE WITH JONATHAN- A FRIEND TO POLITICIANS AND POP STARS.