What a lot of our critics
do not seem to realise is that licenced amateurs, who believe themselves
to be operating completely within the law, quite often are not.
Sometimes the breaking of rules is quite flagrantly accepted on many different
fronts, as detailed below. This lawlessness is
compounded by R.S.G.B. Ltd. publications on operating practice actually
suggesting operating procedures that are illegal (that is to say, contrary
to the current BR68).
The DTI/RA practice of only prosecuting where "malicious intent" is
involved, leads to a situation where law-breaking by one operator is
accepted, and another will be taken to court for doing the very same
thing, not a healthy situation to operate in.
[It should be noted
that all operations of the former Radiocommunications Agency are now
handled by Ofcom]
The basic and most obvious
example of law breaking is when an LPWS member, or anyone for that matter,
either plays music on a repeater or starts to generally "muck about". The
so-called "sensible" operators usually key their mikes to obliterate the
offending signal, doing this is ILLEGAL, as they commit the
following 3 offences:-
They establish their station
without transmitting the call-sign.
They fail to complete the station
log. (As doing so would catalogue an illegal transmission)
A second example of their law-breaking
is when they try to engage the abuser in conversation, or direct remarks
towards them. It is also ILLEGAL to do so without first exchanging
call signs. Any station doing this is "established
without the benefit of a licence issued on behalf of the Secretary of
State". Case law is now in place in the UK that the call-sign MUST be
given within the first 8 syllables, penalty £500.00. Hereford Crown
is a good example, this dozy old wassock has summoned
together what little brain power he has left to
ascertain that the other character has no licence, he
then contravenes his own licence conditions by directing
remarks to an unlicensed station! We imagine he has no idea what he has done wrong!
This proves that you should
never challenge someone to a battle of wits when you are only
You would think
that it would be a
service to others, to report traffic accidents and road congestion, but this
is a very common source of illegal transmissions on repeaters up and
down the country. How often have you heard something like this
"anyone travelling on the M5 southbound, there is an accident just
past junction 7"
Sorry, ILLEGAL, it is an offence to make a
general transmission that isn't an initial "CQ" call, it is also illegal to transmit without first giving
the station call sign. Any station doing this is
"established without the benefit of a licence issued on behalf of the
Secretary of State".
It is an offence to have a
"pecuniary Interest" (direct or indirect) in any operation
conducted under your licence, what does this mean? Quite simple really,
So, no selling of equipment,
advice on prices etc.
An example heard on a local
repeater. A radio amateur was being given a
lift home after dropping his car off at a garage for servicing, on the
way home he discovered he
had left his house keys on the key ring with the car. It was 17.45 and
the garage was closing in 15 minutes and he could not get back in time.
He desperately called on the repeater to find someone closer to the
garage, who could go there and recover his keys for him. Luckily, he was
able to arrange this, and in the conversation that followed, told his
colleague what a service he had done for him, as without his house keys
he would have had to stay in a hotel as he couldn't get in his house.
Sorry, ILLEGAL, by soliciting help from a fellow radio
amateur, he gained a pecuniary advantage by not having to pay for a
hotel room for the night. Read the BR68 for confirmation!
movement on this now, with equipment for sale being allowed on Packet
Radio bulletin boards, if anyone still bothers with such a slow and
tedious method of communication.
Have you ever monitored
HF? The usual practice is to tune up your linear prior to sending a
"CQ" call. Quite often the operator will whistle down the
microphone whilst setting the ATU/SWR, sometimes this goes on for well
over a minute! It is ILLEGAL to do this as the offence here is
that the call sign of the station was not sent at the commencement of
transmission. LPWS members have been successfully prosecuted for
uttering a mere 3 words, just 8syllables,
without prefixing the station call-sign! Penalty, £500.00.
ALSO, when monitoring HF,
you will quite often witness what is referred to as a "Pile Up". This is a
situation that arises when several stations try to respond at the same
time. It is a fact that just these situations, albeit on VHF, have been
described in court cases against LPWS members.
When this situation has
been described to magistrates by RIS investigators, it has been invariable
described as "deliberate interference". On HF it is regarded as the norm.
Another case of one rule for one, and another rule for others.
Many Packet Radio
operators disable the Morse ID on the TNC, as a service to others and to free up
the congested packet frequencies. ILLEGAL, station ID is required
at no less than 30 minute intervals.
Many packet radio
enthusiasts operate from alternate locations from time to time, and
there are TNCs specifically made for mobile operation as well as links
to the GPS network to show user's locations. Basically, this is quite
acceptable practice, but as the packet radio network is pretty crude, it
is impossible to use many nodes and access a BBS with the required
suffix that must be applied to
the station's call sign if established away from the main station
If you add the /M, to
signify mobile use, you will find that some software programs will not
accept this number of call-sign characters, especially if you have already had the
requirement for a country prefix as well, as in GM or GW for example. If
you manage to find a program that will accept all the characters to
legally establish the station, you will find that your call-sign is not
recognised by your home BBS, and you cannot recover your mail.
Therefore, mobile packet operators ignore the legislation and almost
100% of packet mobile operations are ILLEGAL as the station is
not correctly identified as being mobile.
Mobile Operation with 2 or
of the most common mistakes made by radio amateurs in the UK is to assume
that they "are" the call sign. For example, people will say
"I saw G8ASO the other day", when in fact all they saw was
Brian Jones and NOT his amateur radio station!
This misconception leads to the
illegal use of radio in the following way :-
Heard on local
repeaters are amateurs sharing cars on the way to and from work
etc. It is a regular occurrence that these people pass the microphone
between themselves and operate as completely different stations
identifying themselves by their own station's call-sign, before handing
the mike back and then having the other person use his station's
Why is this illegal?
Firstly, the car
becomes the station once it is "established" and the call-sign
MUST remain the same irrespective of whoever uses the microphone,
unless the station is closed down and "re-established" using
the other person's station call-sign. To carry on using their respective
call-signs these amateurs are committing several offences.
Any questions? Read the
BR68, it's all in there!
These examples may seem petty, but rules are
rules, and all the regulations have equal standing, we are unfortunately not in
a position to pick and choose which of the BR68 conditions we comply with, and
which we ignore.
Contraventions reported with no action
In the 1990s. LPWS members reported many infractions of the rules to the RIS,
some of the very offences for which we ourselves have
been prosecuted! In
all cases, no action of any kind followed.
Below are a few examples of the
reported offences where the RIS chose NOT to investigate let
alone prosecute anyone.
In all the examples below, full supporting evidence was supplied.
False call-signs when
establishing a packet station.
(now semi legal)
Obtaining pecuniary interest.
Attempting to obtain a pecuniary
Establishing a station without
the benefit of a licence.
Using a reciprocal licence in
the UK without the G/ prefix.
Allowing unlicenced people to
Directing remarks to other than
Repeater Group transmitting
music ID on GB3CF.
Remote repeater shutdown without
the station identification of the shut down station.
No Morse ID on packet radio
Operating in Wales
or Scotland without
identifying the station as GW or GM.
Operating away from the main
station without a /M suffix.
Operating a mobile
Packet Radio Station without the /M suffix.
Radiocommunications Agency will vigorously pursue "some" people for
offences whilst completely ignoring the self same offences when committed
by others. They seem to adopt the practice of not proceeding where they
assume that "no malice" was intended. It's a great pity that there isn't a
level playing field, and infringements of the BR68 rules for which LPWS
members have been prosecuted, are ignored when committed by others.
LPWS suggest that it is not too much to expect that the same rules should apply
equally to all.
The Laughing Policeman Wireless Society is a
non-profit organisation for the furtherance of amateur radio. With annual turnover of less then GBP £1000,
LPWS qualifies for UK Charitable Status.
Access to, and use of