British Police Try To Ban Bashment

Cops In Croydon Claim Sean Paul’s Music Causes Crime

Police in Croydon have reportedly instituted a ban on dancehall music—known in the UK as “bashment”—claiming that it causes crime and disorder. The latest Clash Music Reggae and Dancehall column reports that police in the London borough wrote a letter criticizing at least one nightclub for playing “what this borough finds unacceptable forms of music.” Dice Bar owner Roy Seda says he has had undercover cops in his club monitoring the music and has been forced to sack DJs for playing dancehall, even though customers often request songs by artists like Sean Paul. “They think I’m a racist,” he told a local newspaper. “All I can say is I am really sorry but the Metropolitan Police has told us [not to play bashment] and, if we do, I will lose my license. Someone has to stand up and say this isn’t right.” Full Story After The Jump…

Ironically Croydon has a long history of nurturing musical talent. The BRIT School for performing arts graduated Adele, Amy Winehouse, Katy B, and Jessie J. UK rappers Stormzy, Krept and Konan, and Section Boyz can all trace their roots to Croydon, and the town was at the epicenter of the dubstep scene, a style of music that draws heavily on Jamaican dub as well as UK garage and drum and bass with Croydon DJ/producers Benga, Scream, and Plastician all making significant contributions to this worldwide sound.

Despite all of that, local police have decided to go on a witch hunt against “bashment.” Borough Commander Andy Tarrant has denied that any such a policy exists but at least one club has gone public with evidence that police have imposed a ban on the sound that’s been a fixture on the international pop charts for years. Dice Bar owner Roy Seda says a second club in Croydon has also been told not to play bashment, but he was not able to convince them to join in his campaign to expose the police practices. Last March the police applied to the local council to review Dice Bar’s liquor license because they played music that was “associated with persistent crime and disorder.”

sean-paul-she-doesnt-mind-singleDoes the music of Sean Paul—or Croydon Police call him, “John Paul”—really cause crime and disorder?

Last June  Mr. Seda met with licensing officers and a police inspector. According to notes written by police during the meeting, they criticized the Dice Bar for “not adhering to the music policy” and instructed the club owner “not to play bashman or John Paul” [bashment or Sean Paul].” Mr. Seda said: “I had to sack one DJ who played bashment music. I told him he had played something the police would class as unacceptable. The problem is there are some songs, like Sean Paul, which are commercial but have elements of bashment. We were left to guess what the police wouldn’t like. They laughed at me when I said we played Sean Paul. They didn’t understand it.”

“Singling out Caribbean and specifically Jamaican music as being associated with crime and disorder is profiling – which is unacceptable,” Nero Ughwujabo, chief executive of Croydon Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) Forum, told a reporter from the Croydon Advertiser. “The borough commander must explain what intelligence is underpinning these assumptions instead of giving the impression a sizeable proportion of the population are not welcome in the town center.”

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