The Live Music Forum

Previously we have written to two senior Police Officers, neither who have been able to produce any evidence to support Police claims that live music leads to public disorder.

Here is our letter to Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, asking for evidence of a link between live music and public disorder, and subsequent correspondence (earliest at the top)

10th November 2009

Public Letter

Sir Hugh Orde OBE
Association of Chief Police Officers

Dear Sir Hugh

In 2003, former ACPO President Chris Fox wrote an open letter to Tessa
Jowell, then Culture Secretary, in which he stated: "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.".

This sentence was read out in Parliament and was used by the
government to justify rejection of an entertainment licensing
exemption for live music in small venues, then proposed by
Conservative peers and backed by the Liberal Democrats.

Far from making people behave in a way that is inappropriate, criminal
and disorderly outside of their own communities, we argue that in the
vast majority of cases, performances of live music have a positive
effect on communities. The majority of people in attendance at a live
music event are there to enjoy the music and not to drink irresponsibly.

The basis of our philosophy is the overwhelming evidence that live
music has a soothing affect on the population bearing the pressures of
our society. This is borne out by several recent scientific studies,
such as 'A Study of the Effects of Visual and Performing Arts in
Healthcare' by Dr Rosalia Staricoff and others. In fact, this has been
true for thousands of years in all parts of the world, where singing
and dancing are at the core of almost every civilisation's culture and
advancement. Because, it is through this process that much of our
knowledge and experience is handed down through our stories. Not just
live music, but even poetry readings have been adversely affected by
the Licensing Act 2003.

I have written on this subject to two senior Police Officers and an
LGA spokesperson but nobody has been able to put forward any robust
evidence to support the suggestion made by the police of a direct link
between live music and public disorder. One must infer, therefore,
that there is no evidence of any significant link between live music
and serious violent crime.

Whilst I am sure that most of us are repulsed by events that "glorify
violence and guns and those that promote hatred based on race or
homophobia", these type of extreme events are quite rare, yet, normal
day to day cultural experiences such as a piano in a pub, a jazz band
on a Sunday afternoon, trio in a restaurant and live bands with people
there to enjoy the music and performance not just to drink themselves
incapable, are being licensed out of existence.

Folk, Jazz, Pop and Rock bands have been the mainstay of entertainment
in pubs for over fifty years without any real history of trouble. The
issue of 'over-legislation' is adversely affecting the employment
opportunities of thousands of musicians and co-workers.

Since nobody can provide evidence of any significant link between live
music and serious crime, will you now give us an assurance that, in
future, the ACPO and indeed the police generally will make clear in
their public statements on this issue that the vast majority of
performances of live music are beneficial for the community, and that
problems are confined to a tiny proportion of events.

I think you will be surprised at how far this will go to improving the
spirit of communities, thus making the job of the Police that much


Phil Little
Live Music Forum


Reply from Commander Paul Minton

Received 13th January 2010


Subject: RE: re Live Music and Disorder

Dear Mr Little,

I apologise that you did not receive a substantive reply to your message of 11 November 2009.

I am happy to provide you with the reassurance that you seek. The vast majority of live music events serve to provide considerable pleasure and social benefit without implication for policing or public safety. In a very small number of cases there is clear evidence of association of criminality with events or acts and that obviously needs to be dealt with as the intelligence and circumstances indicate, however, this is clearly the exception and not the norm.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Minton
Chief of Staff
Association of Chief Police Officers

Our reply to Commander Paul Minton sent on 21st Jan 2010

Dear Commander Minton

Thank you for your email and assurances that our Police Force does not automatically associate live music with public disorder.

Can you please confirm, then, that the Police will not be opposing the Government's small gigs exemption which is under consultation at the moment, or, the exemption in Lord Clement Jones' Live Music Bill which was debated last week in the House Of Lords

Under both these proposals, dancing to recorded music played by DJ's would remain licensable.

We hope this will help satisfy the concerns of the Police and that we can begin to rebuild our once healthy live music culture. That will surely work to everybody's benefit.

Yours Sincerely

Phil Little
Live Music Forum