So, it seems the old farts at the Met don’t want kids to have much fun these days. Apparently, every live music event needs to be "risk assessed", which involves completing a form 696, while afterwards you need to complete a form 696A. It’s claimed that
Sunny Hundal writes in the Guardian’s "Comment is free" about his experiences. Before he and other fun-lovers could get into the venue, a variety information were gathered, with no indication of why the data were collected, nor how long it would be held for.
This wasn’t merely to ensure I was above the required 18 years of age. Not only was everyone required to provide visual identification, but they also had to be logged in a computer database – otherwise none of us could go in. Everyone’s driving licences were scanned through a machine and recorded on a computer, with no indication of how long the police would store the information for.
When I objected, the (white) club promoter was quite frank with me. He said the police had said they were "concerned" that the venue played "black and Asian music" and hence wanted added security.
Unbelievably, at least one of the local councils has cited terrorism as one of the reasons for the data collection.
The great Feargal Sharkey, CEO of UK Music, has been speaking to the Parilamentary Culture, Media and Sport subcommittee:
Sharkey cited one such statement from Hillingdon Council in west London, which he says "tries to make a direct connection not only between crime and disorder and live music, but most astonishingly – I’m still knocked over in disbelief – between live music and the prevention of terrorism."
You’ll probably have detected a racial element to all this. In another recent article at the Guardian, Dan Hancock writes:
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."
Since then, the original link to form 696 was taken down: the form has been replaced by an amended version without that question. It seems to me that this is another example of creeping data collection without clear policy statement, and that by using "war on terror" as an excuse, the police and/or local authorities are trying to blag their way past objections. And who’s going to listen to the abused?