Friday, February 24, 2012

Planning a gig in Bedfordshire?

With some of the nasty things that can happen in nightclubs and venues, it makes sense that proper thought is given to making sure everyone has a safe night.

I think the Risk Assessment Form that Bedfordshire Police appear to insist on having completed might go a little too far in the opposite direction.

It's an eight-page document, with a surprising level of detail being demanded.

There's the awkward "is there a particular ethnic group" attending question; a demand to know when and where the event will be advertised; and a demand to know everything that happened the last time the promoter promoted at the venue.

They want to know the "dress code", too, presumably in case it's a "wear dangerously high heels and carry a swtichblade" evening.

Then there's the acts:

Please list below all ARTISTES, THE ACTS / SOUND SYSTEMS /OTHER PROMOTERS perfoming.
They want every name, every alias, every address and contact details for all. Every last drummer.

A warning follows that there might be an inspection, and if anyone is found performing who wasn't included on this, it "might jeopardise any future events by the promoter or at the venue."

Really? So the support band breaks down on the motorway, a local band offer to play a quick set instead, and that casts a cloud over the venue's future?

Or Tom Jones happens to be in the audience, clambers on stage to knock out a duet with the band, just as a policeman walks in, and it's lights out for the venue?

There's then a question which asks for details of any times any of the acts appeared at the venue before. Even if the event passed off smoothly, you still have to volunteer detals about the security in place.

And what about the crowd expected? To be fair, Bedfordshire Police don't quite yet demand a name and address for everyone in the audience, but do want to know if the audience includes "patrons travelling a long distance". God forbid you've booked a touring band who have got people following the tour.

There then follows a really detailed risk assessment along with "helpful" suggestions - like "all performers will be searched [for drugs and weapons] every time they enter the venue.

This all has to be done fourteen days in advance. I've known a lot of small promoters who struggle to pin down a line-up 48 hours in advance - how are they supposed to cope? Should they give all the details of all the people in all the bands they're talking to, just in case?

Do the police really need all this information? There's a good principle of data collection, which is you should only ask for what you're going to use. Contact details for every member of a sound system seems to contain more fact than a licensing department should require for most events - if they did need to ring the drummer from Cud, surely they could just reserve the right to ask for it later?

The idea isn't, I'm sure, to stifle creativity and live events in Bedfordshire. But I bet Festival Republic are glad Reading is in the next county.


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