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Advice from the LPWS
Try to stay Squeaky Clean!

In the past, the over zealous officers of The Radiocommunications Agency vigorously pursued radio amateurs for minor infractions of the rules.
Since their work has been taken over by Ofcom, we have been able to welcome a more rational and even handed approach.

After all, the hobby has no serious use and basically is only a bunch of loonies talking futile and meaningless drivel to each other, a good example being that when contacting someone for the first time, the main content of the conversation seems to be what radio each side have, what antenna, and how many Watts they are using.
Translate that into the real world and on the telephone we would be exchanging handset details and what call charging plans we are using - but that never happens does it...........................

The work of the former Radiocommunications Agency is now carried out by Ofcom.

It is amazing to report that in 2015, the already relaxed rules were further relaxed to such an extent that it is now very difficult to to operate illegally, now you can play music - the bad being lifted many years ago with no one actually noticing, probably even themselves!

Amongst the many changes are:-

  1. the removal of the requirement to keep a log book
  2. the removal of the need to say "mobile" when operating from a vehicle
  3. the removal of the requirement to give the station location when not operating from the main station address
  4. the removal of the requirement to give that call sign every 15 minutes
  5. the removal of the ban on playing music
  6. the removal of the ban on political comment
  7. the removal of the ban on pecuniary interests
  8. the removal of the need to use the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, we now have our own HERE

Add to this the fact that swearing is now also acceptable. Terms & Conditions specifically ban "Grossly Offensive" language, but require broadcasters to warn the public of swearing in radio and TV programmes - they describe the use of the word "fuck" as STRONG language, and on 15.05.2015 BBC1 transmitted the word "cunt" and the required warning spoke only of "very strong" language - not grossly offensive. OFCOM rules and their interpretation changing the perceived meaning of our restrictions.

3rd October 2014 It seems as if their new light handed approach has cost the CEO his job!

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.

In reality, that is not that difficult now, as the former BR68 is now obsolete, and the new rules now come with your license and are headed Terms & Conditions and relax many of the previous draconian regulations. What has proved to be something of a problem is that no one has read them, including OFCOM Spectrum Engineering Officers, and they continue to try and enforce long obsolete regulations.

Many of the conventions are no longer required, and there is further relaxation of the rules on the way - soon there will be very little anyone can do to break what rules still apply.
No longer required are log books, suffixing your station's call sign with "Mobile", and the call sign is only required once every 15 minutes anyway, NOT at the end and beginning of every "over" as some people would have you believe.

One of the problems is that apart from nobody reading or following the new rules (including OFCOM Spectrum Engineering Officers) people who have come into the hobby via amateur radio clubs, have been brainwashed into believing bizarre practices, terminology and a peculiar vocabulary forms part of the required operating procedure, which it doesn't.

In September 2014, it was confirmed that a local radio club was still "teaching" outdated practices and operating procedures that bore no relationship to the licensing authority's requirements, would a driving school ignore the new continental style road signs, just because when the instructor learnt to drive in the 1950s, they were not in use?

Recent experience (2014) would show that OFCOM have still acted on complaints based on the obsolete rules.

Staying squeaky clean means abiding by the WRITTEN rules, and not the perceived rules, or the "unwritten rules", so if OFCOM were to actually visit, you should easily be able to demonstrate, by reference to the Terms & Conditions, that although whatever it was they thought you were doing, it was in fact, not against the rules as they are written.

One of the past favourites of the DTI, was to prosecute for "Not giving the station's call sign at the commencement of transmission", and even though people had a current license, they would charge you with "Establishing a station without the benefit of a license". As this has been successful several times, it passes into law by the process of "Case Law".

Spectrum Engineering Officers. Please do not confuse them with either :-

A Sinclair Spectrum

OR

Spectrum the organisation that Captain Scarlet worked for

Station Identification

LPWS operating procedure requires you to have a low powered hand-held radio, select the lowest output possible with NO CTCSS tones.
Always use this to establish your station before using full power on your normal radio and antenna. The effect of this is to fulfil the requirements of the Terms & Conditions, but appear to have established your station without giving the call sign within the first 3 words. Only if OFCOM are monitoring locally, for instance, following a complaint, will anyone ever be aware of correct and legal operating practice being adopted.

This keeps you 100% legal, and if it attracts the notice of anyone, and OFCOM investigate, they will find that you are indeed establishing your station to the letter of the law which is all that is required. That is to say, you are complying with the licensing authority's rules and ignoring third party (RSGB Limited for example) irrelevant and in some cases illegal suggested "operating procedures".

Watch This Space for the possible relaxation of the 15 minute call sign rule - that, coupled with the fact that you no longer have to keep a log book and subsequently don't have to log a station closedown, will leave us with a situation where the station can be established continuously, with NO periodic transmission of call signs being legally required.

YES! From April 2015, the call sign every 15 minutes rule had been scrapped, now the requirement is to give the call sign "As often as practicable" - one of our members has suggested once every 25 years would be sufficient!

Practicable means capable of being put into practice.

Remember when identifying your station that the NATO Phonetic Alphabet is no longer mandatory, and that the LPWS one is now just as acceptable, take a look at it HERE.

Spend some time reading the new rules, there are loads of possibilities! Read the rules and work out the possibilities that will allow unconventional operating, but remain perfectly legal.

Logbooks   no longer required

This is one of the best things about the new relaxed rules, you could have been shut down because of log book inaccuracies, but no longer. PLUS you don't have to work out the transmitted power used in dBW to correctly complete your entries.

For those of you who want to work it out anyway, or who have no idea what we are on about, here is how you calculate dBW:-

In 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.

 
 

Try 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 out!

Tone and Inflection of Voice

It seems to be universally accepted, even by some OFCOM officials that you shouldn't talk in what they describe as a "silly voice", however, no legislation exists in this respect and this fact was specifically remarked upon by Assistant Recorder MF Coates at Hereford Crown Court in 1992 (Crown Vs George).
If any practical proof of this was required, you only have to listen to your average Welshman, or one of those characters with throat cancer that use the Dalek voice vibrator things.

Mr Coates went on to instruct the court and the jury that there was no reason why anyone should or should not be a member of The Laughing Policeman Wireless Society, and that there was nothing "sinister" about ownership of club magazines.

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, evidence being given by a so called "expert witness".

Good Operating Practice

HERE is an interesting document, we are not sure where these are made available, but this undated document seems to have been written by someone unfamiliar with The Terms & Conditions that accompany our licenses.
A brief scan through shows up many controversial points that are completely at odds with current legislation.

Do they want us to follow this advice or follow the rules as they are written, very confusing!

• Use language that is clear and will not offend

A fair suggestion but the legislation only requires us not to use "Grossly" offensive language.
• Leave music to the broadcast stations The ban on playing music was removed from the Terms & Conditions when the BR68 was scrapped.
• Keep a copy of the band plans to hand and follow them There is no such thing as a "Band Plan", in fact OFCOM actually state that there are no frequencies reserved for any specific use. The so called "Band Plan" is produced by a third party, a little like the AA or RAC producing their own Highway Code. It is irrelevant.
The NATO Phonetic Alphabet is shown The new Terms & Conditions are now reworded to only say that this is a mere recommendation. We have our Own Phonetic Alphabet.

• If you find another station on ‘your' frequency, politely ask them to move, or move your QSO to a clear frequency –propagation may have changed and they may have been there all the time.

They omit to remind you that you MUST first establish your station by giving its call sign within the first 3 words or eight syllables. £500 fine for not complying!

• Find a clear frequency to tune up on and keep a note of your ATU settings for quick retuning next time you use the band.

Again, no reminder that you must establish your station first, see above.

• Always give your callsign (sic) in full and remember to send the other station’s call first (e.g. ‘Delta Six Eight Charlie from Golf Zero Alpha Bravo Charlie)

This is completely wrong, if it is the first contact with the station, your station must become established, so you MUST use your station's call sign first, see above.

Read through the whole of your Licence – the training doesn’t cover all of it but you must comply with the parts that apply to you.

Good advice, somewhat at odds with the above!

Read up on topics of interest (the RSGB operating manual is a mine of information)

Blatant advertising for a private Limited Company, but one of these RSGB Limited manuals actually suggests that you should say "Is this frequency clear" when changing frequencies, therefore suggesting that you should "establish your station without the benefit of a license by not giving the call sign at the commencement of transmission". You MUST give the call sign within the first 3 words to be legal.
We could be more critical, but follow this advice and you will be operating outside the law, and have "established your station without the benefit of a license", the terminology used in prosecutions - even if you have a license!

Advice

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, and not operate to a pattern. For example, every morning when you get up, or every evening when you get in from work - adopt a random pattern and leave the odd week completely transmission free.

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 company RSGB Limited publish documents to give guidelines to vigilantes, on what to do. Read the document below 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 :- "Sadly, 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!

A Guide For Repeater Abusers in the UK

Reprinted from Radio Communication, the publication of the R.S.G.B.Limited, June 1997.


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 

DO:

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. 

DO NOT: 

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 RSGB 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 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!

 
 
      "Wicked" Willy Bodwen ex Sgt. 3116 (forced to retire & not a laughing policeman!)

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.

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