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Amateur radio is a very strange hobby in so far as it seems to attract a complete bunch of social miss-fits and low achievers. This is strange when you consider the qualifications that are required before a licence is issued, but as anyone "in the know" can tell you, all the examination answers can be learnt "parrot fashion".
Particularly in the UK, multiple choice examination papers, narrow the possible answers even further. You have to choose only one of four answers, and with even a small amount of knowledge you can reduce the chances of being wrong to a 50/50 choice. One stupid answer, one improbable answer, and two possibly correct answers.
The following scenarios are here to illustrate the bizarre comparisons between life in the real world, and life as a radio amateur!

The Real World

Amateur Radio World

Imagine you are driving in your car one day, and you inadvertently exceed the speed limit. To your misfortune, there is a police car nearby, and you are charged and taken to court. You are charged with “Exceeding the Speed Limit” and fined, you are not charged with driving without a licence are you?
Imagine you are a Radio Amateur, you inadvertently operate out of band (i.e. transmit outside one of the amateur frequency allocations), to your misfortune, one of your fellow Radio Amateurs reports you to The Radio Investigation Service and you are taken to court. Even though you have a full licence, you are charged with operating without a licence!

Imagine you park your car on ‘double yellow lines’ [no parking zone], a Traffic Warden sees you and you are given a fixed penalty for parking, you are not charged with driving without a licence are you?
Imagine you are a Radio Amateur talking to one of your fellow amateurs on the radio, you inadvertently swear, one of your friendly, fellow amateurs reports you to the Radio Investigation Service and you find yourself in court being charged with operating without a licence – even though you have one!

Imagine you go out in your car, and you get elephant’s trunk BUT still decide to drive home, even though you know you have drunk too much. To your misfortune, you drive through a random check and find yourself in court for “Driving Under the Influence” you are not charged with driving without a licence as you have one. You are obviously guilty and are fined £125.00 and banned from driving for 12 Months. After a year, you get your licence back in the post, and you can drive again.
Imagine you are a Radio Amateur mucking about on a repeater and decide to liven things up with a piece of music, to your misfortune it is Sunday night, and the lads of The Radio Investigation Service have got an overtime "OK". You get your front door broken down and your house is forcibly entered by the R.I.S. accompanied by “Constables”. After a thorough search, all your radio equipment is seized, and you are taken to court for operating without a licence, even though you have a full one. You are taken to court, fined thousands of Pounds and banned from using a radio for 5 years. After 5 years you don’t get your licence back, you have to take your Radio Amateurs Examination again.

Imagine you are out shopping, or in the pub and you inadvertently call someone a CUNT. What happens……….nothing! (or possibly a punch up the bracket if he is bigger than you!)
Imagine you are a Radio Amateur, you call someone a “CUNT”, he replies “Cheerio mate”, what happens? A few weeks later, accompanied by “Constables” the valiant lads from the R.I.S. forcibly enter your home with a search warrant, and after a thorough search, all your radio related equipment is seized. Charges follow, and after 2 days in court you are found guilty of 4 counts of “Using Grossly Offensive Language”, It costs you £1000 and your licence is revoked for 5 years with the need to re-sit the City & Guilds examination again to get your licence back.

Hard to imagine? These analogies are imaginary, but the consequences are from real cases!

For annoying a just a few of the less than 60,000 radio amateurs in the U.K. the consequences can be quite dramatic and out of all proportion to the penalties handed down to real criminals, muggers, rapists, or persons threatening or endangering life! And yet, what harm can you do with a radio?

Here are a few examples of ACTUAL cases brought to the UK courts, all public domain information!

What interests us are the so-called offences committed, and the penalties handed down. These penalties are quite often many times more than those given to real criminals involved in theft, robbery, and violent attacks. When an analogy is made with motoring offences, you really see the discrepancies.
It is possible to cause death by dangerous driving, and be fined less than for playing music on an amateur radio repeater! If that were not enough of an example, the motorist will invariably receive the licence for his instrument of death back, years before a radio amateur will be legally allowed to use his radio licence back again.

One of the usual things the prosecution tell magistrates or the jury, are that transmissions "could have interfered with emergency services". This is particularly prevalent in cases concerning pirate broadcast stations or UBR, but also sometimes used as evidence against radio amateurs in court. It is, of course, complete bollocks on both counts. When you consider that the "evidence" is given by members of The Radio Investigation Service, it brings into question their credibility and status as so called "expert" witnesses.

We could go on to list actual cases and the level of fines, but to make the point, we will be brief.

Amateur Radio


Play The Laughing Policeman song on one repeater Kill 5 people with a car with 2 defective tyres
Fined a total of £9500 Fined a total of £350
Radio licence taken away for 5 years. New Radio Amateur exam pass required before being allowed back on the air. Driving licence taken away for 3 years. No new driving test required.

Say "CUNT" on a repeater Kill 1 person standing at a bus stop by mounting the pavement in a car
Fined a total of £1000 Fined a total of £300
Radio licence taken away for 5 years. New Radio Amateur exam pass required before being allowed back on the air. Driving licence taken away for 3 years plus 6 penalty points. No new driving test required.

These are not even the most extreme examples, but are the genuine and accurate offences shown with the genuine and accurate penalties from news reports in the national press in the UK.

The discrepancies go on, from The Birmingham Evening Mail 26.6.99:-

Kill 2 schoolgirls on bicycles and fail to stop at the scene of the accident
Fined £0.00!!! Sentenced to 240 Hours of community Service
10 penalty points on Driving Licence.

It's a good job he didn't have a radio with him!!

Plus, don't forget that the radio amateurs were required to re-sit the radio amateurs examination before being re-issued with their radio licences, the killer motorists getting their driving licences back with no restrictions or driving test whatsoever.
      "Wicked" Willy Bodwen ex Sgt. 3116 (forced to retire & not a laughing policeman!)

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