The Metropolitan Police plans to educate licensing officers in London on the use of controversial form 696 — used to assess risk when staging live music events.
Many hosts who stage live music at their pubs have been confused by the regulations, and by the fact that councils interpret them in different ways.
Under the forms, licensees in participating boroughs are asked to state details for promoted events, including details such as the music style and "target audience".
The form applies to events which are promoted, include DJs or MCs, run between 10pm and 4am or are in a nightclub or large pub.
Adrian Studd, chief inspector of the Metropolitan Police Clubs and Vice Unit, was responding to concerns that the form was being used in cases where it wasn't required — for smaller events and unamplified music.
He said: "As part of review and consultation, we're embarking on an education programme for local licensing officers. I'm optimistic that this will improve consistency."
He was speaking at a debate hosted by Music Tank on "Live Music: Licensed to thrill?".
Lord Tim Clement-Jones, Liberal Democrat spokesman on Culture, Media and Sport, welcomed any steps moving towards a "more proportional response".
He said: "A great swathe of local authorities were insisting that the form was filled in by every venue for every event.
"So much heat and smoke about 696 is that it was seen as a blanket instrument."
Clement-Jones previously tabled a private members bill to make it easier for pubs to play live music.
But his suggestion that venues with smaller capacity (under 200) should be exempted from licensing regulation was branded a "recipe for disaster" by Studd.
"It fills me with absolute horror," he said. "I guarantee if this does come in, it would be changed within a couple of years."
He reasoned that events for 199 people would spring up and attract violence.
But Clement-Jones said: "If 200 is the wrong figure, then what is the right figure?"
He called for the licensing act to be simplified so that "music can flourish in small venues".
Facts and figures
According to chief inspector Studd, of the 17,500 licensed premises in London, only 270 filled in form 696. Of those, only 70-100 premises have the use of form 696 as a condition on their licence. In the other cases, filling in the form is voluntary. In 2008, no premises were closed down as a result of 696.