R.I.S. In Action
Amateurs In Court
Pirates In Court
CB Court Cases
Other Court Cases
Spot The Loony
History Of Swearing
Clean Advice from the LPWS
In the past, the
over zealous officers of The Radiocommunications Agency vigorously
pursued radio amateurs for minor infractions of the rules, Since
their work was taken over by Ofcom, we have seen a more rational and
even handed approach.
The majority of this
page is no longer applicable in the 21st Century, but left on the site
as a reminder of what we had to endure in the 80s & 90s.
The work of The Radiocommunications
Agency is now carried out by Ofcom.
Let’s face it, they don’t like us do they? If past
experience is anything to go by, it is important to ensure that the relevant
rules and regulations are strictly adhered to. Remove the element of chance and
ensure that if you have a “VISIT” you are squeaky clean and the
R.I.S. have nothing to complain about.
For a licenced amateur operating from home, adherence to the BR68
is of vital importance, out and about, when mobile, you can usually do what you
like with very little chance of ever being found out! But bear in mind recent
evidence given in a case against an LPWS founder member, where the DTI
produced an expert witness to testify in the area of "voice
recognition". A disguised voice is now essential!
If everything is found to
be OK on a station inspection, you can still be closed down for not
having your log book up to date completed correctly. Discrepancies have
been used as the sole reason for station closures, so ensure that this
easily overlooked requirement is completed in full, and up to date, just
A good example is not
having your transmitted power recorded in Decibel Watts, the required unit of measurement.
Many of us licenced members passed the RAE in the days
of pure Watts, so here is an easy way to work it out and ensure that your log book
is completed correctly.
Windows, any version, select the calculator and set it for scientific
functions (VIEW > SCIENTIFIC) Enter the output power of your radio
and press the log button, then multiply the answer by 10. That's the
power output in dBW.
this test, 20 Watts > log = 1.301 X 10 = approx. 13dBW. Because this
is a non-linear, logarithmic calculation, it has to be done for every
output power as 40 Watts is not double 13dBW it’s actually 16.02dBW.
Take our word for it, there are a lot of the opposition that can't work this
On repeaters and simplex this is
ONLY required once every
15 mins., not at the beginning and end of each over, like some of the old
buffoons will have you beleive.
This can be another source of trouble if they are seeking a closedown excuse, so
ensure that you religiously do identify the station at no more than 15 min
We can shed no light on whether this is every actual 15 mins of time
passed or every 15 mins. of transmission time, as the BR68 is ambiguous at best.
In a letter to the former Radiocommunications Agency, a member asked this very
question, he was told that if he needed to ask such a question, he wasn't a fit
person to hold an amateur radio licence - so they didn't know either!
We have to assume that it is every 15 mins
transmission time otherwise anyone in a “net” that had not got a word in for
15 mins would have to re-establish contact to legally communicate again. Packet
ID is required at no more that 30 min intervals, make sure your Morse ID is
switched ON. Again, a lot of the opposition ignore this requirement!
Your station call sign is
required at the commencement of transmission, in a test case,
an LPWS member was found guilty by Judge and Jury for having said 3
words prior to his station's call sign. This case is now what is
called "Case Law", and sets the standard.
It follows that advice published by well known magazine publishers
RSGB Ltd., that you should enquire "Is this frequency in use?"
before establishing contact on a new frequency would leave you open
to being prosecuted for the same offence, which was "Establishing a wireless telephony station without the benefit of a
licence issued on behalf of The Secretary Of State for Trade and
Tone and Inflection of Voice
There is no restriction in
this respect as verified in Hereford Crown Court in 1992 by Assistant Recorder
M.F.Coates, and demonstrated by the use of “Vibrators” by some people with
throat cancer. (Have you heard the DALEK on GB3VA?) Any attempt to introduce
legislation in this area would mean that most Welsh amateurs would be in
trouble! So it is quite legitimate to talk in a “squeaky” voice.
BTW, the correct response to one of these people
is a stream of "Exterminate, Exterminate" with possible comic references
to an inability to cope with stairs.
It is important however, not to allow your real voice to be recognised,
in recent years, a successful prosecution was brought against a prominent LPWS
member with voice recognition used and accepted after evidence given by an
When you are messing about on repeaters, it is
quite important to ensure that if you must do it from home, you do so
infrequently. If at all possible, go mobile, it's virtually impossible to track
down a moving vehicle. This is what the RSGB Ltd. tell the opposition :-
It can, for instance, result in the culprit becoming mobile, which can greatly
increase the difficulty of evidence collection.
So now we know!
|No secret is made of the procedure your fellow radio enthusiasts
employ to gather evidence, and The Radio Society of Great Britain Limited
publish documents to give guidelines on what to do. Read the document as an insight
into what the opposition are looking for. It may
well prove invaluable!
Possibly the most
important part of this document is this :-
offensive language is more commonplace these days and courts need
evidence that the language used in the alleged offences is worse
than that encountered in everyday life."
Which would appear to leave you open to use the most objectionable
language without fear of any prosecution whatsoever!
Reprinted from Radio Communication, the publication of the R.S.G.B.Limited, June 1997.
This document is
now amended and available on the
The following document has been put together following many discussions and consultations between the Chairman of the Repeater Management Committee and the Radiocommunications Agency and has been fully endorsed by the Radiocommunications Agency, Radio Investigation Service (RIS).
Repeater abuse has become the amateur band problem most frequently reported to both the R.S.G.B.Limited and the Radiocommunications Agency's Radio Investigation Service.
The RIS has always offered to help where there is evidence of serious repeater abuse and there have been some successful prosecutions in recent years. However, the RIS has to observe priorities set by the DTI Ministers - to attend first to interference to safety of life services (such as air traffic control, fire, police and ambulance), second, to interference to business users; third to other radio users including domestic radio and TV interference, amateur and CB.
Thus, if we are going to make the best use of the resources the RIS can devote to us, we have to help as much as possible.
That is why we how have a REPEATER ABUSE CO-ORDINATOR who can liaise with repeater keepers and RIS HQ.
It is very sad that a few of the many amateur repeaters provided by the voluntary efforts of their dedicated groups should suffer abuse by a tiny minority of misguided individuals.
Repeaters that cover densely populated areas provide the largest audience for these "ego-trippers" and hence the greatest opportunity for disruption and annoyance.
Once the psychology of these hooligans is appreciated it follows that the easiest way to deal with them is to completely ignore them, whatever the provocation, and carry on as normal a conversation as possible, making no direct or indirect references to the problems being experienced.
This practice is also advised by the RA who pointed out that by responding to abuse, amateurs are contravening their own licence conditions.
It has been shown time and again that when legitimate users do not respond and are strong enough to over-ride the interference, the abuser will soon give up as he is no longer succeeding in his "wind-up"!
If, on the other hand, the abuser is stronger than the users then the only option is for the station that is being blocked out to sign off as soon as possible. At this stage other users of the repeater can make a positive contribution.
If another user knows that he has the ability to maintain a contact through the repeater then he should use the repeater and so prevent the abuser from capturing it.
Surely this is just as illegal as the original interference, or are we missing something here?
After about three transmissions from each participant, the abuser realises that he is making no headway and decides to try and annoy someone else on another repeater or starts taking his radio to pieces to find out whether it is faulty! <YOU WISH!
If the abuser is not ignored and the abuse allowed to fester over a period of time then more abusers will "be attracted". Given three of four abusers with strong signals the repeater will no longer be available for normal traffic; the repeater group has a serious problem on its hands.
It is in this situation that the Keeper and his group must take decisive action to curtail the abuse. This could mean turning the repeater off for a period since it will most likely be operating outside its licensing conditions and the closedown lets the situation cool off.
Repeater keepers often co-operate with the RIS in tackling abuse, but in extreme cases it may mean complying with a request to close the repeater down. This action may seem unfair on the majority of responsible users, but it shows we mean business in trying to stop abuse.
If it continues after resumption then we and the RIS are in a better position to act. Once established, abuse by a number of individuals is particularly difficult to stamp out entirely and in serious cases, takes a lot of effort by users, the repeater group committee and the RIS over a considerable length of time.
In the meantime the users of the repeater become more frustrated by the situation. Many of them eventually going away in disgust or one or two may take the law into their own hands and track the offender down and confront him or her.
This may seem like a good idea on the face of it but in a significant number of cases has resulted in the loss of a carefully arranged RIS operation against the suspected offender. [or even a punch up the bracket!]
It can, for instance, result in the culprit becoming mobile, which can greatly increase the difficulty of evidence collection.
In the early stages the problem of abuse can be best dealt with by peer pressure within the amateur radio fraternity. If prompt action is taken at an early stage, a new recruit to amateur radio may be made, but where the problem is allowed to go unchecked it will escalate out of control.
Once there is a group of entrenched regular offenders the problem cannot be completely solved without the RIS being fully involved.
So what can you do as a repeater user?
First note the advice given above as how to respond on air when faced with abuse (see also the R.S.G.B.Limited Call Book and Information Directory, page 94).
Although the responsibility for the repeater rests legally with the keeper, he needs the help of all users. Group members especially must accept joint responsibility with the keeper.
It is important that good communications between keeper, group members and users is maintained, so that a concerted effort is made to deal with the problem as soon as it manifests itself.
Many repeater groups produce a regular newsletter and provide local guidance notes, which are most helpful in educating users. All users should report problems to the keeper as well as the R.S.G.B.Limited in writing giving as much information as possible.
It is no good moaning about the abuse on air or even mentioning it if you are not prepared to help by following the guidance laid down. Neither is it any use picking up the telephone and moaning to R.S.G.B.Limited HQ or the RIS.
The best advice is to ensure that you help not only by the way you respond on air when abuse occurs but also by gathering information about the abuse which will ultimately be passed to the RIS by the R.S.G.B.Limited Repeater Management Committee Abuse Co-ordinator.
It is absolutely imperative to ensure that all users ignore abusers and do not exacerbate the situation by joining in and making references to the abuse.
Where this occurs it is important that such licencees are made aware of their misdemeanour by means of a diplomatic phone call or other discrete off-air method as soon as possible. (Brick through the window?)
In some cases a friendly letter may be appropriate. (especially when wrapped round a brick) It should be explained that to take part in conversations with operators using funny voices or no call sign makes them also guilty of abuse and of breaking the terms of their licence, in that they are permitted only to talk to licenced amateur operators!
Instead they should be persuaded to log the evidence by listening on the input frequency and by direction finding, i.e. to make a positive contribution towards solving the problem.
It is recognised that it is difficult even for skilled DF-ers to locate and obtain valid evidence against some abusers in a short time scale.
It has to be said that there are others who simply will not respond to a private warning, verbal or otherwise, and their actions will make any abuse situation worse.
At this stage the same sort of evidence should be gathered against them as for the hardcore abuser. In due course it should be passed on to the Abuse Co-ordinator. Gathering information about the more obnoxious offenders can be even more difficulty. It requires a deal of diligence and co-ordinated effort in accurate recording and collation.
It can take some time to obtain results especially if the authorities become involved. There is no substitute for careful logging, tape-recording, and positive DF-ing by more than one team. Noting any definite characteristics of the offender, or the pattern of operation can also provide vital clues, and assist with the planning of later operations by the RIS.
As in all detective work it is the gathering and piecing together of a multitude of, sometimes apparently meaningless items of information that eventually yields important clues. That is why it is of the utmost importance to note and pass on as much information as possible.
What evidence should be gathered?
Dates, times, frequencies, pattern of operation, suspected location of offender, strength of signals, details of equipment used by you, bearings obtained with your equipment. An original tape recording of the abuse can be most useful in enabling identification of offenders. In fact almost anything can be of importance including the conversation of the offenders.
A reporting form together with notes for guidance is available from R.S.G.B.Limited Ltd. HQ on request.
Once a case is an established problem it will have been reported to the RIS by the Co-ordinator. The RIS will gather their own evidence and although this is time consuming, it does usually avoid amateur licencees having to appear in court as prosecution witnesses.
Where amateurs can greatly assist the RIS is by pointing its officers in the right direction and so assisting them to make the best use of their valuable time.
The R.S.G.B.Limited's Repeater Management Committee Abuse Co-ordinator will liaise with the RIS at both local and national level as well as with the repeater groups involved. He needs to know the complete picture so he wants your active co-operation to make this effective!
All written reports should be sent to the RMC Abuse Co-Ordinator, c/o R.S.G.B.Limited Ltd. HQ, where they will be acknowledged and passed to the co-ordinator.
If the co-ordinator needs further information he will contact you directly, but he is very busy so he will not make contact just to acknowledge your information.
Remember it is important not to take any direct action or encourage anyone else to take action against alleged offenders other than to collect useful evidence.
It is important that successful prosecutions are taken against as many as possible of the persistent offenders, and that the prosecutions achieve maximum publicity!
Finally, remember the Golden Rules
Operate as normally as possible through the repeater in the face of abuse.
Form teams for DF-ing and logging. Make formal written records of what you find and hear.
Keep the originals and pass copies to the keeper and RMC Abuse Co-ordinator at R.S.G.B.Limited HQ for action.
Keep away from known abusers otherwise they may disappear once they realise they have been identified.
Respond in any way at any time to abuse on the air - not even when someone seems to be blocking your transmission out of the repeater.
Confront alleged offenders.
Take the law into your own hands.
This is virtually
word for word what the opposition are told when collecting evidence on
behalf of The Radio Society of Great Britain Limited.
We have always wondered why a
commercial limited company seeks to become so closely involved in our hobby.
We assume that the
main reason must be MONEY, the more mucking about on repeaters, the
lower the estimation of amateur radio as a hobby, and consequently,
fewer customers for the The R.S.G.B.Ltd. products. The fact that this
company is allowed, even encouraged to act in this way is highly
questionable, imagine the outcry if either The Automobile Association or
The R.A.C. became involved in motoring prosecutions. But, never forget,
this is the "twilight world" of amateur radio where normal
things don't happen, normally!