The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Friday 15th June 2007 - Police to oppose small gigs exemption


The police will join local authorities in opposing the small gigs entertainment licensing exemption currently backed by both the Musicians Union and the Live Music Forum, a live music campaigner has learned.

The reliable source, who wishes to remain anonymous, exchanged correspondence earlier this week with a senior police officer with licensing responsibility.  The officer justified the police position on the basis that some gigs cause crime and disorder. However, despite being asked, no evidence was advanced of the scale of the problem, nor any attempt made to justify the position on the grounds necessity, such as the inadequacy of other legislation, or proportionality.

In Hackney, two venue managers recently reported that the police are now requiring temporary events notice applicants to fill out an 8-page risk assessment including the names and addresses of participants. The government has often refered to TENs as a 'light touch regime'.

In 2003 the police notoriously opposed a similar small gigs exemption, backed by the music industry and the two main opposition Parties, on the basis that:

' Live music always acts as a magnet in whatever community it is being played. It brings people from outside that community and having no connection locally behave in a way that is inappropriate, criminal and disorderly.'

[Letter to Tessa Jowell, 02 July 2003, from former Association of Chief Police Officers president Chris Fox] That quote was read out during the then Licensing Bill debate in the House of Lords on 03 July 2003 by government minister Lord McIntosh in support of the government's rejection of the exemption.

The latest leaked draft of the Live Music Forum report to ministers explicitly refers to the Chris Fox quote. The report, apparently produced in late May/early June this year, notes that the LMF wrot e to the current president of ACPO asking for information in support of Mr Fox's position. The draft LMF report adds:

'At the time of writing we have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply. This is perhaps indicative of just how unsubstantiated and preposterous these kinds of comments are, and the obvious disregard that exists for the impact this kind of generality can have, even though at the time, these comments were made by one of the country's most senior police officers.'

Hamish Birchall