Turning negative situations around. An occasional online account of every day struggles for people in toxic situations, Toxic Lives focuses on those things that affect mental and physical well-being – pulling together the information needed to tackle poisonous situations in the most likely places and campaigning for change, so that people can get on with their lives, free from interference or stress.
Background The victim in case three is an elderly man whose next door neighbour accused him thirty years ago, of interfering with her TV set. Relationships have never been good since this was resolved. He is well known in the community for his hobby, being a licensed radio amateur. His profile is quite high in the neighbourhood due to his garden antenna system. He gets on well with his other neighbours – most of whom support him.
Recently he has been the recipient of several types of unwanted behaviour as follows:
Type 1. False accusations of licence breaches delivered via secretive symbolic messages left on the doorstep of his home by an anonymous caller. The symbol used is that used by CB radio operators to accuse each other of causing problems by “improper” use of his radio, breaking the terms of his licence.
Editors Note: In common with other cases being compiled in support of Armando Martins, this feature implies the perpetrator has a need to torment the victim. It implies he is being observed breaking rules and the potential to involve the authorities. It is a veiled threat therefore. The same symbol has appeared several times in the last few years.
Type 2. More recently he received a malicious call about his hobby purporting to come from the authorities and telling him he would be in breach of the rules of his licence, if he didn’t act. This caused the victim to respond.
These incidents he thinks are pranks, however the frequency and numbers of incidents are building up and this is upsetting for him and his wife. Someone is “getting off” on causing them anxiety.
Type 3. The neighbour next door’s demeanour has never been good, but recently she has made a number of caustic remarks about him and his hobby containing threats to disrupt him by reporting him to the council. This attempt at coercive control was delivered over a number of incidents, one of which included complaints to his wife shouted through a communal wall, and accompanied by banging on the wall. This occurred while she was indoors enjoying TV and he was enjoying a session of radio operating in the shed.
When they eventually spoke, there was an allegation of TV Interference and the neighbour adopted a more threatening stance.
Despite his offers to resolve the situation, which mean accessing the neighbours TV to test it, she refuses and continues to threaten him saying she will have it stopped by the council. The victim takes the correct action and obtains a leaflet from the BBC and gives it to the neighbour. The neighbour insists she will do it her way.
NB. It is the BBC who have the technical resources to locate and prevent the interference. The council don’t have any (but do have enforcement officers).
She isn’t interested – she wants to invoke sanctions that close him down.
Anxiety levels are raised. Her attitude and demeanour imply if the victim doesn’t comply with her rules, he will face the “bureaucrats” at the council or some other judgement. As of today the victim awaits a call from the council and is in fear that they will act on her complaint rather than leave it to the proper authority. (A few weeks later there is a distinctly toxic atmosphere). While the victim said that he wasn’t losing any sleep it was clear now that he sees this as a threat to his livelihood. In his mind he is continually questioning the situation – looking for reasons why he is under attack, what the next steps may be and how to deal with it – fearing the worst.
NB. The behaviour of this neighbour bears a strong resemblance to that shown in Nightmare Neighbours Next Door Series 5 Episode 8. This has been screened multiple times on multiple channels of Freeview TV – ed.
Twice this week, in case studies, one in my own life, I have seen examples of Corporate Toxic Ignorance at a local level.
Case 1 – A local Councillor
We held a meeting with this chap, who was obviously diametrically opposed to a friends proposal requiring planning permission, in his constituency. Nobody else in my friends community objects to this, even the parish council supported him.
We didn’t know the councillor was so opposed when the meeting was booked, but at the meeting it became obvious that he was absolutely hostile to the fact that people like us, just want to enjoy our hobbies in our own back yards, without interference from our neighbours. He was opposed, despite planning law being fairly explicit as to what is allowed.
After the meeting we began to politely email him to thank him for attending and to ensure he had noted our friends requirements but from the point he left the meeting he began to act against the proposal – using his considerable power as a member of the city councils planning committee to sabotage the application. The decision was removed from the hands of a planning officer and tactically diverted into a planning committee meeting where the councillor could debate it, rather than risk it being approved by a planning officer.
FFS councillor, this is a seventy eight year old man who just wants people to stop interfering with his livelihood.
Recorded in the minutes of a planning committee meeting, is the councillor saying the following, without mentioning what the outcome or content we provided was or mentioning our views:
Simply “Councillor Xxxx-Xxxxx made a voluntary announcement that he had met the applicant at his property and had also met the speaker (me) from whom he had received considerable correspondence which had been passed to the Planning Officer. Councillor Xxxx-Xxxxx indicated that he had not in any way pre-judged the application.)”
Well he did as our account of the meeting and his emails show.
NB. Normal behaviour by any standard says that he should have let the planning officer do his job.
At the committee meeting the councillor had the opportunity to withdraw from the planning meeting but instead he led the discussion that ultimately saw nine out of ten vote to refuse planning permission, forcing my friend into a planning appeal. (which is final).
(The same councillor wrote in the local press after the planning committee meeting how he had discarded the joint opinions of several thousand petitioners on the topic. Toxic People love to brag and seldom let you live and let live, once you challenge them.) They are not there to let you live and let live but are controlling instead.
Case 2 – A Regimental Association
The author is a progressive person and sees change as part of life – he has been running a branch of a national regimental association for several years and it is not without problems, one of which is a dwindling and ageing membership – approx twenty people paying very small subscriptions when there is a market of a few thousand potential members. Something obviously needs to change.
What we did
We took the problems to our branch membership and noted their requirements for change, to put to the Regimental association. They were doing similar studies but had so far left our group out.
Before we did all this work we had attended the annual general meeting (AGM) of the association twice, and its sub committees a few times so were sure we were on the right track. (not so apparently – see later).
At the 2017 AGM We were impressed that the general at the head of the organisation had asked for suggestions that could be included in the associations forthcoming strategy in 2017. The green light was on.
What happened Next?
When we submitted our short, presentable, easy to read documents to the hierarchy, they were rejected out of hand so quickly, and in such a way that it was as though it hadn’t been read. I challenged that but it was clear to me then that the hierarchy of the association didn’t like what we (the signatories to our proposal) had said. Needless to say our suggestion never got to the general. (Well not with our name on it anyway). At this point I let our committee know and resigned my position. The options weren’t acceptable. I would never accept a position in an organisation with a toxic leadership and without a plan or opportunities to develop.
As the branch has opportunities to report any issues it has once a year before the AGM, you would think the next time this came up it would be debated as a fundamental problem, especially as our chairman had discussed the issues with with the president who attended the meeting. Not likely. We had to fight for a copy of the minutes of the meeting which simply said “Each branch gave a very good update on their current membership and highlighted key points to the Group Director. Copies of branch reports can be requested through the Group Secretary.” In an email the president said the group meeting was not an appropriate forum for the discussion.
Toxic People don’t believe in your right to freedom of expression and will do their best to assert their own personality into any situation. They claim your good ideas as theirs or assert their own will without considering your ideas no matter how good they are. If they don’t like what they hear for any reason, (Jealousy or envy for example) they will suppress it.
If you work for a toxic boss who employs a spin doctor then expect stress. Here’s a link.
As an organisation our interest is not only to get justice for Armando. The same treatment he got from his neighbours and the council can be applied to anyone, but is a particular feature in the life of some radio amateurs. What happens is the amateur suddenly finds himself the victim of a malicious complaint aimed specifically to ruin his or her enjoyment of their property. As Armando’s local councillor (inappropriately) put it during his planning application, “if you put up an amateur radio antenna in your garden – you can expect people to have a go at it.”
We say that attitude is victim blaming, a technique used to mask the true motivation for a complaint, which is usually attributable to the controlling behaviour of the assailant. The type of complaints amateurs encounter are easily refuted, however the malicious complainer can get lucky when councils respond out of ignorance, to the loudest shout. In Armando’s case his assailant managed to motivate several complainers in an act of bullying, known as mobbing, to voice a number of complaints, most of which were fabricated. The mobbing went unaddressed despite being listed by the council as anti-social behaviour – council staff joined in blocking his goals and blighting his life and satisfying the assailant(s) need for power.
Being able to enjoy the use of your property is a human right and making malicious complaints is a criminal activity called Harassment.
The National Planning Policy Framework focuses on the needs of the community for housing. At an individual level, the needs of radio users are simple; to be able to deploy their property – the antennas they buy or develop, on the property they own or rent.
The Government Policy which rules the Planning Regime in the UK is the National Planning Policy Framework 2012.
On 12th March 2018, the secretary of state for communities and planning announced a public consultation about a newly drafted version of this policy. (See link above). This ran from March to May 2018 and is now closed.
The Armando Martins Campaign has consulted with the Radio Society of Great Britain over many of the issues he faced. We see eye to eye on a number of issues.
The problem in a nutshell is, the current framework excludes amateur radio as an entity. Amateur Antenna experimenters have to apply the rules for housing extensions, conservatories, sheds and garages. This limits the height and size available to a particular “virtual box” dependent on the size of the property. Council workers dealing with radio amateurs have no knowledge about amateur radio and are expected to make planning decisions etc. Successive re-writes of this policy have eliminated the needs of radio amateurs – making life more and more difficult.
It follows that to rectify this for the future, some improvements were needed to the policy, to improve relevance and define further the needs of radio amateurs.
The campaign was able to contribute as an organisation to the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework 2018. It asked for several amendments and shared information with the RSGB who agreed the suitability of those relating to amateur radio and telecommunications.
Amendments Improving Relevance to Part 10 Supporting High Quality Telecommunications
Firstly, where the draft states at Para 112 – Planning Policies and Decisions should support the expansion of electronic communications networks.
We asked to insert – that these are usually regulated by OFCOM.
By inserting this it would make it clear that amateur antenna developments would be included in planning policy.
Secondly the draft covers a number of situations applicable to telecommunications services at Para 115:
We asked to insert a new paragraph after para 115 c) as follows:
d) Applications for planning permission to install the masts often used by amateur radio operators, radio taxi firms and other private and commercial users, usually present few potential planning problems in terms of size and visual impact over a wide area and will not normally be of such a scale as to have a serious impact on local amenity. Such applicants will generally have less scope for using alternative sites or for sharing sites, and masts will often need to be located on the premises.
By inserting this, it would help resolve issues where scale and amenity were being misquoted in order to resist planning applications.
Where we don’t see eye to eye with RSGB has been in the field of abusive neighbours and nimbyism, There is a tendency for victim blaming here. Too often we hear you have to keep in with the neighbours and while we support that whole heartedly it is not appropriate to have to resort to bribery to avoid emotional abuse, as several amateurs have reported to us. Where neighbours have taken advantage of planning regulations to abuse us by making anonymous complaints for example. We therefore have also asked for the enforcement regulations to be centralised (one Policy for all areas), and gave feedback as to the requirement to have a system that could not be abused.
The consultation ended on 8th May 2018 and we are now waiting to see if our effort had any impact. There’s a chance it may not.
The revised policy as it stands is a welcome change and if all goes well, we will be able to close the campaign on the strength of it, having made all of our points. We asked RSGB to query the right to develop in the space above a property which was included in the policy.
The aim of this short report is to state what happened when Mr Martins engaged in the Planning Process with Canterbury City Council.
According to the planning portal Armando could decide whether his antenna designs were to follow the recommended pathway for the type of development category they belonged in. They could either be de-minimis, permitted or planned. The portal recommends consultation for the first two types but didn’t mandate it. He noted some difficulty engaging the planning department about these and decided he could go ahead with confidence after our consultation with the RSGB. The antenna he previously used without planning permission, now needed planning permission. Technically to get what he had asked for from the property, He would require planning permission was developing an antenna requiring planning permission but also had designs for permitted developments which would allow him to make use of his radio’s. He accepted he would need to go through due process and expected due process back from the council.
During the year housing staff attempted to “enforce” a ban on his wire antenna, he constructed a wire antenna using his right to choose a permitted development.
During these meetings we took an educational approach and realised the council housing staff, issuing “enforcement action” weren’t authorised or qualified to, nor had they offered any measurements or paperwork etc. A theme running throughout Armando’s experience and causing him stress. Having now queried this with RSGB we learnt we took the correct action by engaging the council and not accepting the “enforcement” and documenting the conversation. Subsequently RSGB informed us via an article titled An Unexpected Visitor in the the March 2018 issue of RADCOM that this was the correct form of action.
From moving to Thanington in March, up until June 2017, Armando was quite happy with his situation and was preparing a planning application. He was expecting housing to support him by checking ahead that the property he moved into was somewhere he could get planning permission for. Before he moved.
Armando was advised by the RSGB Planning Team to take advantage of pre-planning and obtain a certificate of lawful development, when attempting to put this into practice it was contradicted by the architect as being a waste of time and money. From this point it became important to monitor the process.
There were discrepancies between the process actual and the process expected according to both the RSGB and the Kent Design Guide. An aide to planning applications in Kent.
All went well until the planning officers decision. Following a verbal report of a conversation with the planning officer from the architect, it appeared that the decision would be for his proposal as there were no objections by the closing date.
There then came another message: “A councillor has asked for your application to go before the planning committee. There was going to be a refusal, and it was a committee decision, because of its impact on visual amenity”.
By coincidence we had interviewed the councillor for Thanington who said he was going to intercept the proposal and make sure it would go before the planning committee. He was generally disparaging of amateur radio and made inappropriate remarks, some of which we heard influencing the planning committee outcome when considering his failed application at Thornhurst. We question his attitude. During the conversation we had, he stereotyped Armando as a Radio Ham, “You radio hams”. “You should expect trouble if you put up those structures in your gardens”. (We say; It is wrong to blame the victim for the anti social behaviour of his neighbours, the council has a duty. Also when they gave him trouble, the council he sits on are expected to prevent that and not condone it. Also they have a duty not to waste public money. See below. The same councillor was most vocal during the planning meeting, leading the less experienced councillors, together with the chairwoman, when he should have left the room. We say he had a deep rooted prejudice.
Going by prior experience, Armando was understandably upset and wanted to know more. He had assumed the cooperative process described in the Kent Design Guide, and also as described by RSGB Planning would be available to him, and was proceeding in that direction. As far as he knew he would be able to ask questions and could modify the plan if there were issues, to make a more acceptable proposal.
He asked for more information – a questionnaire was produced. This included how and by who had the application been diverted to a committee decision. Also about visual amenity.
The response was that “The Canterbury City Council Planning department cannot answer questions during the process, due to its high case load.”
Armando had identified two possible candidates for the interception.
He became concerned about; visual impact, the assurances made by East Kent Housing, the lack of a meeting on site with the planning officer and the lack of a response to his questions. This led us to create a separate overview of his locality.
He could not reconcile the phrase “visual amenity”, when related to the area, in context. In the area there are several objects in the street scene that take the eye and it is litter strewn, several refrigerators have been seen since the time he moved in. A number of vertical objects are present. Objects that the proposal would be wholly congruent with, such as an electricity substation on his doorstep fenced with grey iron railings (the same colour scheme as the mast). Also nearby residents are used to seeing Multidirectional Telephone junctions mounted on Telegraph poles. Presenting a tee shape, similar to the proposal. Also the refusal seemed to suggest the application could be controlled by one neighbour next door, based on the “fact” she “might” see the antenna and make an objection, but who didn’t when asked and whose view across the property was very well screened by foliage (at the time). We think this could well result in Armando being held to ransom or promote bribery. De ja Vu.
As the report had little to say in favour of the proposal, we think the detail needed to balance the report in favour of the proposal was omitted. We asked if the planning officers report could be combined with our information, ahead of the planning committee meeting. Following the late publication of the report on 21st December, we found out this had been ignored. We took the issue up with head of planning who said he would ask the planning officer to review it. He didn’t.
From 29th December there was a game of cat and mouse. We thought it fair not to appear at the planning committee meeting until the issues raised had been reconciled.
Only the day before the planning committee meeting and on the day, was Armando to hear that there was no chance of his information being incorporated in the planning officers report or altering the decision before going before the committee. Postponements refused.
It then became a foregone conclusion and we think it was tactical that Armando was railroaded into a decision. After attempting to back out, he felt coerced into attending.
At the meeting, we weren’t allowed to speak, before or after I had spoken on his behalf. Despite asking for three slots. We had to listen to his application being assassinated by the PO and two councillors, one of whom had a grudge and the other with inappropriate fixed views.
Armando deeply believes that this is a poor example of public service standards and has quoted the Nolan Report. He has asked his MP to intervene with EKH. Here he was directed to complain to the LG&SCO – the local government and social care ombudsman.
From the campaign POV he is unable to identify anyone in Canterbury City Council who can take responsibility and make things happen. His rights to enjoy his property are at risk.
Also because there are more than one amateur, in more than one council area affected by malicious complaints which triggered this saga, he is offering the chance for RSGB to help by calling in his application.
became clear that the process he was a participant in, fell short of guidelines. Essentially his needs, which the secretary of state for community and local government says must be met by the planning process, were discarded on the strength of a single report biased towards denying him those needs.
At each stage of the process he raised a number of issues and objections first with the planning officer in charge and then with the head of planning. These requests were systematically ignored. Attempts to stop the process to allow for the issues to be rectified were also ignored, railroading him towards a decision made solely on the recommendation of the planning officer. Evidence Mr Martins supplied to refute that decision was not disclosed. The planning officers recommendation contained a clause giving the power to refuse or take the antenna down was given to his neighbour.
There were no objections, and on this basis it was expected the planning officer would make the decision to allow the mast. Instead the decision was sidetracked into a committee decision and the truth about how that was carried out was obfuscated. Mr Martins was denied the support of his local councillor, and the Radio Society of Great Britain. But has support from his MP.
If your wondering why at 77 Years of age there is no support for this then join the club.
Naturally disappointed, Mr Martins refuses to give up. The local press has had a bit of a field day. Our response was to contact the reporter immediately regarding the councillors inside knowledge of our petition and the lack of data or the willpower to verify it in order to support his own planning decision, in respect of the numbers of amateur radio operators in the Canterbury area. Invalidating our argument is a technique well covered by literature. We summed up the planning committee meeting as deeply ingrained cultural bullying. Firstly his access to the process was interfered with by not allowing him time to speak.
We think the process was used to relentlessly drive the application towards a final decision whilst not disclosing the full facts associated with the site or the application.
It became clear that there is no place for amateur radio enthusiasts in the 460 +/- pages of local plans, supposedly prepared with the consultation of all people in local communities.
Our response the the press did raise the eyebrows of the RSGB.
In the community, living in fear has a number of causes. It most likely results from excessive control being asserted over one or more members of the population and a need to avoid sanctions. In the extreme it can lead to stress, violence, and ultimately cause suicide.
This article focuses on controlling neighbours using fear for their own gratification. It examines how one vulnerable group of people is affected by bad laws and lack of public service resources leaving them open to abuse by controllers.
Sanctions. These are measures which a controller has within his power to invoke. In the neighbourhood these include stigmatisation and social exclusion. Once sanctioned the controller can use that information to control others.
When a controller has no power, their devious and manipulative traits and their need to control others is enough to escalate. Once they have started this obsessive behaviour they have got to go on until the end is achieved. They will be coercing others with more power into carrying out their exploits.
In the community, council workers at all levels, including the police appear vulnerable to becoming a proxy acting on behalf of the controller, by the nature and powers of their job. They are hired and trained especially for similar traits and attitude.
Fit in or Fuck Off
This inappropriate standard is a threat which has been applied by human resources in the workplace, and bullies nationally to ensure control is maintained, over potential trouble makers for example. It is highly likely to be applied in the community. In itself it invokes extreme behaviour. It is the direct opposite of live and let live, which is the desirable objective of communities. Fit in or Fuck Off in the community means if the victim doesn’t comply he or she will be forced to move away. This is outlawed in Great Britain under the freedom from harassment act).
If you aren’t open to being controlled and don’t have the strength to resist it, then its a sure sign your life could become poisoned by controlling behaviour.
Normal people will try to live within social rules, deviation can lead to a range of sanctions. designed to ensure people stay on the side of the controller. The level of sanctions applied depends on many factors such as autonomy, power and the resources available to enforce control. It can depend on rank whether sanctions are imposed or even fitting in. Once a “limit” (also variable) of deviation is reached sanctions are invoked. Challenging authority and the ability to escalate invokes a greater response.
In normal life it stands to reason that to apply sanctions requires authority. Sanctions must be measured and appropriate, to be effective.
Abuse of Power
Among the tools of the controlling mindset are lies, plausibility and gullibility and misinformation. An abuser may use fear mongering or other forms of abuse such as emotional blackmail to obtain conformity.
To live in the vicinity of a coercive controlling character is to live in fear. He or she will have many controlling skills to be avoided and will be able to conceal his or her actions when they are used.
On the receiving end of prolonged abuse are psychiatric or physical injury.
In the community, one common way to poison the life of somebody you don’t like, (assuming the victim hasn’t already done it them self), is for the controller to tell lies or half truths about them. Where the victim is a couple, this is more effective. Some husbands won’t care what people think or say, but the stigmatisation will have an impact on the female partner who values social contact and neighbourliness. An attack by a controlling neighbour can lead to strained relationships and trigger controlling within the partnership. The power used here is the relationship the abuser (may) have with the neighbours he or she shares with the victim. To escape this treatment one only has to comply completely with the poisoners personality.
Real Life Examples
In three of our case studies involving amateur radio enthusiasts, separate controlling neighbours tried to achieve gratification by asserting control over another. To achieve this they raised a bogus objection to the unusual antenna structures they created in their gardens.
In each case the behaviour started with a warning “are you allowed to put that pole up?” (Or “ditto that wire there?”). Or more directly “you can’t do that, you haven’t got planning permission”. There then follows a visit from the local council planning department.
In one case the planning department saw through the controlling behaviour and refused to escalate for the controller, denying him the gratification. This led to the planning department themselves being abused by the controller. The controller went to extreme measures in his attempt to gratify himself. This included stigmatising the victim accosting him and his wife , hysterically screaming at the victim and his wife, eventually culminating in several assaults.
In two others cases, the planning department met the aims of the controller(s) to their complete satisfaction. As far as the local authorities were concerned the victim was to blame and was subjected to indiscriminate enforcement orders by unauthorised council workers and excessive bureaucracy – forcing the victim into the planning process when it wasn’t appropriate. At no time were any measurements taken or tolerances applied.
When tracing back why this had been so effective, the Armando Martins campaign concluded that the personnel dealing with the “complaints” of the controller knew nothing about controlling behaviour and were completely taken in. The controller coerced them into complying. They didn’t have the authority to enforce change, but it was easier to do so or face being bullied by the controller(s). The staff involved had scant knowledge about amateur radio and where it fits within planning law. The same staff authorise planning applications or provide reports for councillors expected to make planning decisions. According to social media, these factors lead to radio amateurs living in fear, resorting to avoidance and limiting their activities while being forced to comply with a very complicated rule set. Attacks by the controllers have caused people to give up their hobby in order to avoid the unwanted attention.
The one way that this can be avoided is nationally by a joint legal action by radio amateurs against controlling neighbours and planning rules. Another possible action is to train the local council or to ensure radio amateurs are included in local plans. The latter must happen.
This year we have been tracking Armando Martins (M0PAM), a radio amateur, in his engagements with Canterbury City Council as he applies the planning process to the antennas he wishes to erect in the garden of his council accommodation.
We followed up on three incidents amounting to a blanket ban on all types of amateur radio antenna by the council housing department. This ban was unlawful, and infringed his rights under the National Planning Policy Framework, Town and Country Planning Act and its associated General Permitted Development Order, et al.
We think what happened was initially a gross misuse of the planning system instigated by his neighbours. We say a professional organisation with the city councils resources would have prevented this misuse, rather than being drawn into it. What made it possible was a complete lack of understanding of the acts and council policy, by council workers.
Raising the Issues
On the first occasion we studied what had happened and on the second and third occasions we took the time to work with the council to test and develop the necessary understanding. (However its too early to tell whether this work has created a lasting and permanent change).
Now Armando is in the process of applying for planning permission and finds his application is on the verge of being refused. There are some discrepancies in the way his application has been handled.
Emotionally, this year has been a very worrying and stressful time, being micromanaged by council officials for several years has affected his life. We say, when nobody knows how long they have on the planet who would want to waste their time struggling with their local council in a distorted process? We have heard from people who have simply given up in frustration when it should be clear cut.
Because of the combined experience of Armando and others we think in some parts of the country the process is in disarray and therefore open to abuse. It could be different.
To gain this view we followed up various situations where other peoples neighbours have abused the planning process with the intention to cause difficulty. We think this practice is undesirable and part of a crime, when harassment is intended.
It goes wrong when unwarranted complaints are accepted and supported by untrained housing officers, and then arbitrarily enforced, without first checking whether the complaint is abusive or relevant. What happens is the abuser is gratified, when actually they should be made to account for their actions – wasting council time etc.
Abuse is facilitated when councils do not share the complainers details with the victim. The fact is the council people who could prevent the abuse, work in different silos and don’t consult with each other. The worst possible impact is on vulnerable people, or the victims of – persistent unwanted behaviour intended to cause harm – a.k.a Stalking. Harm because complaints cause stress and are hard to deal with.
In more than one of our case studies, one neighbour in a community is inflicting unwanted and emotional abuse on another, using the council to achieve it, and at the taxpayers expense.
We acknowledge that there is just as much chance that a council worker is making a bad decision, for example to refuse to give permission for a permitted development, based on sparse knowledge of the process (passing the buck to the planning department) etc. This can also feel abusive. We have cited contravention of the wishes of the SOS for Health and the SOS for Community and Planning as further reasons why this process needs to change.
Defective Planning Process
From what Armando says, the process in Canterbury is secretive and political. The planning department is under pressure of work (high case load) and refuses to share data with him at this stage on those grounds. This removes the opportunity to anticipate, amend and resubmit his plans. Because of this and previous experience we think the process in use at CCC lacks openness and transparency, has little substance and is open to further abuse from arbitrary decision making. As new cases come to light on a monthly basis we ask:
Isn’t it time this defective process was fixed?
Stuart Dixon MBCS, GCGI, MInstLM (G4IYK), R MacDonald (2E0ATZ), Armando Martins – (M0PAM),
1. Surveys and Data 2. What we Want (Airing a possible Solution)
Appendix 1 – Surveys and Data
Case Studies 1 and 2. Please note our two previous case studies, Armando Martins being number 1, and Number 2 which, is now subject to legal action by the police. We visited and spoke to three radio amateurs both living in separate areas of the South of England who all agreed to give further examples we could use of what is thought to be a growing problem.
Case Study 3. On a recent weekend, a 65 year old disabled person, living alone, was removing his antenna after receiving intimidating and threatening letters from Bexley Council. He removed an antenna which was well within his rights to retain because “he didn’t want the hassle”. He thinks the councils action was initiated by a neighbour who has demonstrated controlling behaviour towards him going back several decades. Interestingly they agreed the antenna was lawful, but suggested he had to re-apply for planning permission as the polarisation had changed from vertical to horizontal. (The top part of the installation, from upright to flat.) even though this reduced the height and made it less conspicuous.
As planning comes at a cost of £180 he has curtailed activity on the six meter amateur band. The work of taking it down, although on this occasion by volunteers, could have cost him a few hundred pounds. Note Hassle = Further intimidation. He thinks he would not be in this position, nor would the council have incurred costs but for the inappropriate and anonymous action of a neighbour, deliberately designed to put him out and intimidate or humiliate him.
Case Study 4. In Gravesend, a 76 year old retired and disabled gentleman who lives with his wife and two dogs has received unwanted attention and criticism from a next door neighbour for several years. Although unrelated, now an anonymous caller has left several trademark calling cards on his doorstep over the last few months, obviously related to his hobby. This is unwanted behaviour designed to cause fear and as such not a joke. He notes he is losing the support of his wife who doesn’t want the hassle, in common with the victim in Case Study 2. He said he doesn’t understand how the council can take action against radio amateurs but ignore the gangs of youths roaming the streets at night setting off fireworks upsetting his dogs.
Case Study 5. This is an elderly blind and disabled person living in Sheltered Accommodation in Southampton who the council will not support to erect a simple wire antenna. He writes “I think I’m beyond helping. I’m disabled and in supervised housing. Been licensed since 1972. RSGB recommend a “magmount on a tea tray”. RAIBC can’t help. I don’t want much but the council say Radio Amateurs interfere with tv hence ‘no’.
A similar case has developed recently in Portsmouth.
Comments from Petition Responders. Several comments received from responders to the Armando Martins Campaign support these case studies.
Social media contains more data to support the view that there is a growing problem. Some news reports have been taken into account.
One of the issues is costs to the local councils, police and magistrates who all have much better things to spend time and money on. While local areas are full of rubbish, all find it difficult to see how council officials can waste time on this.
Appendix 2 What We Want (Airing a Possible Solution)
Basically what this campaign wants is for a fair and equitable process:
Councils to stop issuing inappropriate “enforcement” orders.
As these can be life changing if misused, these should only come from experts and be supported by objective measurements set within the process.
We identify anti-social behaviour as one source of these inappropriate actions. Radio users in the community are easy targets for controlling behaviour (aka Goal Blocking). (This applies to many kinds of development, not just ham radio.) Malicious attacks often come in the form of anonymous reports which use enforcement action as a means of delivery. Council Workers at the lower level are not trained to respond appropriately, identify compliance with the various acts or recognise anti-social aspects. They themselves are in danger of being drawn in by unfounded complaints and\or committing an act themselves.
We want all council officials to be armed with a policy that prevents stressful goal blocking by neighbours and putting the cost of resolution back to the initiator of complaints. We think Initiators of complaints to the council must identify themselves at the outset, first and foremost to the owner of the alleged offending object. They must then take appropriate action before engaging the council, i.e. they must show evidence of mediation and proof of a breach before councils act. This puts the burden of proof of any allegation, on the person making it.
(It’s not just about amateur radio – its common sense applicable to all sorts of common garden objects. This measure will save councils money and focus council workers on more pressing matters. This will help combat\prevent neighbour stalking).
Reinstatement of PPG8 at a local level.
PPG8 was the only succinct and humane document that could possibly prevent the misuse of council enforcement. (It must be improved on and re-instated(RSGB).
The root cause of this is obscure documentation about planning requirements which identify TV and Domestic Antenna and put de-minimis and permitted Amateur Radio Antennae developments into the same class as you would expect to use for an outbuilding, conservatory or house extension. Radio users are not property developers. Council workers who are not experts can be easily misled into thinking there is no such thing in planning law as an amateur radio antenna.
RSGB to take a role
We think the RSGB should be more open about the current problems coming forward and the impact of localism. We think there are opportunities for change and it must have an action plan. It should at least stand up for radio amateurs. We suggest it starts by educating them, via its regional network to assert their heritage and rights into local plans.
Also from the RSGB and our councils we want a fair and timely, modern process that operates 24/7 and includes tenancy matters in its processes. An accurate digital system would save all time and effort and reduce the number of volunteers needed by RSGB.
We realise a FAQ may settle many issues and ours is set out already. RSGB to review and adopt this as part of the their process.
The late Dr Tim Field taught us to predict, resist, challenge and combat bullying.
Several years of ill treatment by a neighbour which; included five cases of assault, resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – and also contributed to the loss of his job, prompted one victim to take action against a tyrannical stalker who had latched onto, and was victimising him. The victim gives us insight into his struggle to get the police and local community safety unit to recognise the crimes of Stalking and Harassment and to do something useful and positive to assist.
Despite Stalking being a crime and the presence of several other criminal acts, the police approach is summarised as “pass the buck”. They continuously claimed the crimes were civil matters despite the contrary being posted on the CPS website. This left the victim to deal with what was in effect a multitude of criminal acts, in the civil courts.
Various factors led the victim to review the costs of their recommendations and he realised that they were being passed on to him – he thinks as a cost cutting measure. Meanwhile in other areas, the police do recognise and deal with stalking as a crime.
In hindsight he sees this as a postcode lottery. He also thinks that the police were diverted from realising the seriousness of the affair by the perpetrator who employed various bullying tactics to control his neighbours.
This article examines the common strategic tactic used by stalkers and bullies called DARVO. Standing for Denial, Attack, Reverse Roles of Victim and Offender, this behaviour has been used by generations of stalkers and bullies, to avoid detection and evade confrontation. Properly executed DARVO isolates the victim of stalking, harassment or bullying from effective support.
In abusive toxic organisations such as the mental health services, anti-bullying policies that fail the victim and allow bullying managers to target workers in the same way, have also been experienced. Appointing an internal, salaried investigator to deal with bullying or stalking can turn into yet another form of attack.
This article therefore calls for the police and the unions to rethink their strategy when victims complain of a pattern of unwanted, fixated and obsessive behaviour which is intrusive and causes fear of violence, serious alarm or distress. The definition of stalking, according to Paladin who run the national stalking helpline.
DARVO strategically delays or defeats justice and prolongs the stress of the victim, giving the perpetrator maximum opportunity to destroy him or her. By exposing the tactic it is hoped that victims, supporters and police officers can learn how to break the cycle of stalking attacks, and shorten or curtail the victims exposure. No victim should be left to tackle a stalker alone.
How Stalking Works
Stalkers are sneak attackers, expert in causing mental pain in ways that only the victim, or someone with rare empathy can detect. They often exploit some unique personal characteristic(s) or “failure” on the part of the victim in the attack. Fictional, half true or otherwise, nonetheless attacks hurt the victim where others would not be hurt. This makes it difficult for others to understand.
Perpetrators engineer and enjoy unwanted contact with victims. It suits their purpose, which is to control and if not, sadistically destroy their victim or target. Often this is achieved by using the victims emotions as a weapon to de-stabilise them, eventually invoking mental illness. As a last resort the perpetrator may employ violence if they cannot achieve what they want emotionally.
Unwanted Contact and Intrusions
In stalking or bullying, contact incidents are extremely unpleasant for the victim, being designed to engage him or her and the stalker, (and\or a third party) in a conflict situation. Normally how the victim handles conflict will decide the outcome for them.
Normally when conflict occurs, depending on the severity, it results in an outcome which can easily be forgotten for example, both parties move on etc. Equality is achieved between the parties or they adopt superior or inferior roles which they both respect. Under abnormal circumstances the conflicting parties can also divide into the roles of stalker and victim.
The victim who does not handle conflict well, (or has further attractive characteristics (beyond the scope of this article)), and exposes this to a psychopath, is drawn into a destructive relationship.
As the perpetrators intention is to destroy or eliminate the target, and overt violence is risky and illegal, the conflict is carried out by attacking emotional weaknesses in the target that cause stress.
Having witnesses present during the attack serves a number of purposes for example to highlight the victims weakness, especially if in response the victim acts offensively (or defensively) or “out of character”.
The accumulative effect of many incidents over time damage the victims self confidence, can erode the targets reputation when delivered in public or behind the targets back and are aimed at asserting control and dominance.
Often hidden, or disguised as normal behaviour, when delivered in public, this type of attack gives the perpetrator power over others by showing them how they could also be treated or abused by the perpetrator, if they don’t conform. (or “toe the line”). The perpetrator that inspired this article has mistreated members of the victims family in order to get at the victim, and then further attempted to exploit the victims responses to his tirades. Many unwanted intrusions and contacts have been arranged that bring the victim into contact with the authorities to draw them into assisting him in his aims. A loyal citizen, the victim only wants to go about his business and maintain his reputation as law abiding member of the community. This is so far disrupted. The resulting fear has created further incidents where the family see how the victim is treated and are immediately alerted to the presence of the perpetrator and respond adversely to it.
Consequently people around a stalker or bully tend to live in fear, and when they see what is happening they tend to gratify the perpetrators behaviour or turn their back on the victim, both acts that feed and encourage the perpetrator. Selected victims will find it difficult to provide an appropriate response and through stress and anxiety, a physical illness, called hyper-vigilance, victims will wish to avoid further abusive contacts when the stalker is around. Just seeing or hearing signs the stalker is around will trigger a response.
Mediation and face to face meetings between victim and offender are feared by the victim because of this ability to trigger such a response and exploit it; degrade, demean or invalidate the victim. Perpetrators aim to keep their own name clear by avoiding being caught, and demonise or label the victim. To the victim the stalker is a bully, and to anybody else he would like them to think of him as a truly great neighbour.
How DARVO works
When a victim begins to relate the impact of the perpetrators behaviour, during any resulting confrontation between the victim or a third party supporter, the stalker denies any offence or meaning, caused by his or her actions. Feigning apology may lull the situation. A tissue of lies and half-truths will be used to support this. Due to the credibility of the stalker and his or her excuses, denial serves the purpose of asserting their preferred version of events.
To embed this view, a diversionary or counter attack can also be mounted. This has the aim of discrediting the victim, commonly shifting the focus onto some offensive action purported to have been committed by them. A fictitious event or some minor misdemeanour or performance issue blown out of proportion will suffice. This gives false reason and motive to the real offenders action and diverts the spotlight away from the original (victims) complaint. Such attacks often involve a “characteristic” of the victim, for example one very effective tool is to claim the victim is ill or unfit, (even though this is due to the stalkers action). Labels are used to stigmatise the victim with mental health or performance problems, incompetence or a criminal record.
Reverse Role Victim\Offender.
The perpetrators aim is to portray the victim as being responsible for the offence. “Because you did this, I did that”. A fantasy version of “events” puts the victim in the position of wronging the perpetrator or other parties involved.
The aim is for the perpetrator to get the support of the local community surrounding the victim as well as that of the investigator and eventually the victims friends.
The victim is further isolated, while the stalkers behaviour remains unchallenged or they gain status.
Investigators will shift their judgement to the victim and lose the will to act against the perpetrator.
(Another version of this occurs in workplaces when HR investigators on the organisations payroll begin to act for the perpetrator.)
Gaining Advantage – The Perpetrator
Stalkers are obsessive and therefore convinced in their right to pursue a course of action in what is often a fantasy or delusional situation involving a victim. In one mode, he or she has well developed powers of persuasion and charm. Also they may have, or think they have rank, status and power in the community, (or organisation) above the victim. If not they may attempt to cultivate a relationship and get support from somebody who has the muscle, rank and status, which can then be used to carry out attacks by proxy. This may be a higher value boss, a council official or a police officer etc. The more senior the better.
He or she may vent – victimising others when they don’t conform to expectations, or escalate until he finds people who he can suck into the situation, to pull rank, causing a break in the process or a diversion.
Perverting the Course of Justice
By gaining the support of the investigator(s), further advantages are given to the perpetrator, enabled by the action or failure to act of investigators and the victim. These actions or in-actions make it much less likely the victim will obtain justice. A short list of actions and outcomes from the victims experiences follows:
Victim. Avoidance of the perpetrator. Due to the obsessive nature of the offence, the perpetrator would re-engineer contact, even when asked many times to stay away.
Victim. Denial – shutting off from what just happened at the end of an incident under the assumption it is over and the perpetrator won’t return. In reality this left the victim exposed to further attacks.
Victim. Misunderstanding the role of the perpetrator, blaming themselves (what did I do to deserve that?) or being blamed by others.
Victim. Following bad advice to do any of the above.
Victim\Police. Taking no action to prevent further attacks – police (or investigators) fail to use powers or invoke laws or policy. Victim fails to learn lessons or take preventative measures to stop repeat incidents. Perpetrator thinks he can get away with it. Attacks intensify.
Police. Multiple uncoordinated incidents, with more than one investigator, no single controlling mind. The victim thinks the current policing model makes continuity impossible and a new policing model that provides continuity is needed – see below.
Police. Applying dispute management or conflict resolution processes which give equal weight to the perpetrator and victim, inadvertently giving the perpetrator the advantage over the victim due to their different human characteristics.
Police. Fear of the stalker. Allowing them to control the situation, and to escalate through the ranks to find and target decision makers.
Organisations. Who use employees to investigate allegations. This escalates the stalking behaviour and is a tool which can be easily manipulated to bring overwhelming defeat to the victim instead of offering protection. Organisations that do this almost certainly have a toxic culture.
The victim discovered DARVO through Wikipedia and when he realised what it was, he reviewed his incident log. It was highly probable that DARVO was responsible for the never ending situation he found himself in.
The police just closed most of the incidents without following up and “hard luck” “we wouldn’t want a neighbour like that”.
The victim had located a fault in the process being used by the police. His local force has consistently demonstrated no skills in dealing with the issues caused by the stalking mindset or serial harassers. Nationally and statistically this was true. (BBC News\National Police Surveys\Paladin).
The police never reviewed what the perpetrator had said to them, with the victim.
On many occasions the perpetrator had bragged about the police coming to interview the victim after an incident – “because it was your fault”.
The flawed process also includes:
Dropping and closing incidents without reviewing with the victim
Never referring back to the victim over the outcome – whether it was satisfactory or not.
Attempting face to face mediation when it was not appropriate
Blocking the victim from seeing information about him in police logs
New Process Needed
The flaws in the process give rise to the idea that a new policing process is required to deal with stalking. Briefly a single timeline, under regular review by a single trained mind with an aim to end the belligerence and resulting stress is required. DARVO is so basic a concept it is hard to believe the police don’t train for it already.
Once the victim had become DARVO aware, he developed a counter strategy, first documenting it and then making it plain that he thought the perpetrator was lying to them.
Rationale and Personal Risk in the Approach
The victims rationale was (within limits) to do some of the work the police should have done. To expose DARVO he would leave the perpetrator in no doubt that he was acting within his rights. Avoiding the perpetrator or avoiding upsetting him would be counter-productive to evidence gathering. His mere presence seemed to trigger an attack. Information about the level and continuity of activity against him was essential and he and his family had to be seen to be above the law. Anything that confirmed the actions as those of a stalker was not to be encouraged nor discouraged. He decided gathering evidence was worth some risk while protecting his family. Importantly one benefit of his approach was that the effectiveness of the abuse was reduced – his own actions gave him back some control.
When he cut off the abusers access to him in a specific location, he found the abuser increased his range of trivial actions which confirmed his attention had not diminished. The number of these signalled that the next attack was due and confirmed the perpetrators modus opperandii.
Eventually the perpetrator was caught out.
The law allows for a proportional response. After identifying unwanted behaviour you are highly likely to want to stop it and you may wish to consult with police and housing services about curtailing the behaviour. An effective counter strategy is required. Follow Police advice. This will mean religiously logging and reporting incidents to them. They are likely to tell you no crime has been committed when events are trivial and no damage has been done – labelling it as a neighbour dispute seems to absolve them of any any responsibility despite what it says on their website. Keeping a log is essential. Stalking behaviour is likely to comprise a number of events over a period of time. Not logging any encounter is likely to prolong the realisation that a crime is in progress. The victim is often seen as a perpetrator and any aggression will be reflected back to him or her which exacerbates the difficulty of dealing with it effectively. You will need to:
Know your Enemy – research behaviour and establish motivation.
Recognise your own relevant weaknesses and build capability.
In case 2, the victim realised that he was under the abusive thumb of a tyrant who had the objective of ruining his families life, and would not let go i.e was fixated on him. He found out mainly through research and acquired knowledge about the typical behaviour and compared examples with experience. After recognising the crime of stalking, he realised his stalker was somehow preventing direct intervention by the police and took steps to find out how. He kept an open channel with the police, while taking care not to mimic the offender by keeping a matter of fact and short approach, while documenting his version of events – which were being somehow overridden.
This included losing his job which kept him busy and diverted time from dealing with the offender. Instead he made it his part time day job to; work with the police, seek legal advice and study and develop countermeasures.
He made it plain that he would be continuing his life within his rights, despite the controlling and aggressive behaviour which he would challenge, not ignore.
Identify Attack Zones
He identified the zones more or less likely to be used in an attack and confirmed the likelihood of an attack on his property and placed legal deterrents such as anti climbing paint and bird spikes. On more than one occasion these were challenged by the perpetrator and inspected by the police.
Limiting Exposure to Attack
While going about his business he developed safe ways of doing things such as using the car, carrying or having personal safety cameras around and developing limited and legal defences when trespassing or surveillance was involved. Where walls were built within legal limits and this was being used to trespass the height was raised. (As he developed these defences, his abuser was cheeky enough to attempt to get the council to order their removal, so he could carry on his attacks unimpeded). The victim was prepared to go to court to justify the action and that was sufficient to deter any action.
Logging and Recording Everything
Go-Pro is your friend. The Victim made use of several types of personal safety cameras such as the Go-Pro. Contrary to popular belief, fixed home security cameras are not the best method of recording crime on your property. This is because you must avoid pointing into areas where you are recording neighbours and passers by which is a severe limitation when trying to catch intruders. Due to a legal ruling fixed home security cameras were used only for gathering evidence of the offence and once it had been gathered were dispensed with. Otherwise you must obey the guidelines published by the information commissioner. Mobile phones are also less useful. In the heat of the moment menu systems and camera settings cause difficulty. On the other hand a Go Pro can easily be positioned on a flat surface and the only control required is to switch it on.
The police understand video evidence and spreadsheets. Keeping police updated by sharing video evidence and updating a database of each incident and including any crime reference numbers helped the victim to group the incidents and save wasting police time, (two logs were being kept, one by the police.)
Looking after Himself
He went to his GP. GP’s are aware of the symptoms of reactive depression and PTSD which result from this behaviour. This helped limit the toxic effect of the perpetrator and allowed him to concentrate.
Establish Intent\Taking Control
Do nothing that would deter the offender from initiating incidents but at the same time do nothing to trigger them. Limit own actions to things that are within your rights. Control access to property using alarms or “tell tales”. The victim in case 2 used grease at strategic points, as a tell tale which was invisible from the direction of attack. The perpetrator was foolish enough to complain about this and claim it to be criminal damage, and also attempt to force the victim to clean it off. Alarms will alert you to intruders.
Reduce the number of available Attack Zones
Position obstacles or cover from view screens. This gained him the choice of where the attacks took place and enabled him to decide whether to use, avoid or eliminate these locations.
The victim in case 2 documented the assailants methods, particularly his use of cameras for surveillance. This was how he picked his time and place to attack. As the cameras went up he had sufficient evidence to note a rise in the number of incidents. He challenged this surveillance as two criminal offences were being committed. (the offender ignored his challenges). The police refuse to deal with the issue.
The victim documented the lies the stalker used to justify his actions and the style of the attacks. He found a “stalking horse” in the form of a trumped up “neighbour dispute” was being used to justify the attacks, and throw the police off track. He set about neutralising that excuse by not disputing it, but studying the law and asserting his rights. It helped him to note the burden of proof was on the stalker and there was never any forthcoming evidence to back up his false accusations or complaints.
Know the direction of travel and Develop Appropriate Responses
By using lessons learnt from conflict management he knew if he was being assaulted he would be able to use minimum force in response. The stalker had already physically assaulted him and his wife and due to inaction by the police the attacks had gradually got worse.
When the assailant waved a sharp object in front of the victim during the first of two assaults, the victim retaliated by pushing him away. This deliberately restrained incident was reported by both the victim and the assailant as an assault. The assailant naturally blamed the victim, however the victim had video. Not content with his effectiveness on that occasion, the assailant repeatedly harassed the police with a set of lies to amplify his case against the real victim and urged them to take action. (Source: the police).
When the police didn’t respond in the way he wanted, there was a second assault within a month. This time the assailant made out the victim had damaged his property, used in the attack, when he disarmed the perpetrator. He denied that what he did was assault when he found out his story was contradicted by the victims video of the event. When compared to the perpetrators version of events it clearly showed who the aggressor was. Under interview, the perpetrator had exposed himself as a liar – even denying it was him in the video. His DARVO strategy was now neutralised. In court he pleaded not guilty but was forced to change his plea. He pleaded guilty to assault and was given a conditional discharge and 2 years on the promise that if he harassed the victim in those two years he would find himself back in court for sentencing. The victim opened a complaint to the police one month after the courts decision due to ongoing harassment. The victims property and access points are still under surveillance from four cameras.
Stalking is an extreme behaviour resulting from a disorder. To limit the damage and break the cycle of abuse, requires appropriate countermeasures. The resolution of stalking behaviour is a police responsibility, and the victim in this case has spent years under the thumb of a Tyrant, a serial harasser or stalker with designs on ruining his whole family’s life. Despite eventual injury, the police had sent more than thirty different people to investigate more than sixty incidents treating each one as a standalone event, or part of a “legitimate” dispute between two similar personalities. As such they thought mediation would resolve it – which the victim rightly refused. Realising this being the limit of their experience and knowledge it caused more damage to the victim and his family. The continuity required to detect and expose DARVO was absent, as was the knowledge and willpower to deal with it on the police’s part. The victim, not being a police officer was excluded from contributing to the resolution.
At the time of writing, there is a national wave of success against stalkers being broadcast by police communications in hand with the media. It could be signalling the end for some victims although we have our doubts due to the dwindling numbers of police and the rise in violent crime absorbing police time. As at 11/18 political gain is being made of the end of austerity but no visible sign of improvement to policing is seen. (See also here). This comes after Paladin highlighted the failure of police to bring stalkers to justice after five years with the new laws in place. For others the behaviour continues with victims unsupported. It is hoped this article has exposed this and given rise to the need for change. The idea that all police and genuine workplace investigators can develop the methods they need to identify and directly support the victims of stalking and harassment is a change which is taking its time to come about.
Where does Amateur and hobby Radio fit into our Community?
According to the minister responsible for planning in the UK, Amateur Radio is a service much the same as your mobile phone, radio or TV service. He (or she) provides a planning service that allows for the sustainable development of communities and which is determined locally by the community. Nationally, it regulates building in communities, and this includes telecommunications and therefore amateur radio.
Amateur radio has its own heritage, built up over a century or more by people in local communities. Professionally our armed services have relied heavily on developments by radio amateurs to win wars, and it has welcomed radio operators into service, who have been part of the amateur radio community. This is still relevant today.
Amateur Radio gives people a choice to expand their knowledge of the world, develop skills and have some fun in their lives. As a hobby, it is practised for both professional and personal development (OFCOM) in many and diverse communities. In its basic form it involves learning how to operate a radio station and make contact between nations, at a community level (RSGB). People have practised amateur radio for over a century in the community and today there are 85,000 people in the UK qualified at various levels of proficiency. Its not all about radio, it can be about diversity, promoting community relations and physical and mental health (NHS). Amateur radio is often used to augment the emergency services communications at a community level, local events such as park runs may be controlled by radio amateurs for example leaving the police free to concentrate on other work. Radio amateurs exercise jointly with the local police and emergency planning departments. They provide much needed global and local communications during disasters and emergencies according to the united nations. Some people qualify to teach both young and older people to take up the hobby and radio amateurs often take part in local events and community projects to demonstrate the benefits and take pride in their achievements. Local clubs are organised.
Recently when Astronaut Tim Peake was in orbit, the RSGB organised a number of events for schools throughout the country wishing to learn about technology and earth\space communications. The children were able to speak to Tim. This opportunity showcased the electronics and space industry encouraging children into the workforce as well as teaching them about how they can do it themselves from the community.
Why are you publishing these Frequently Asked Questions about Amateur Radio?
This FAQ is for members of the public living close by to radio amateurs who may have questions about the installation of equipment around the property they occupy. It is also designed as a guideline for council workers dealing with complaints and for radio amateurs to consider when planning a system and dealing with neighbours. It is NOT intended to become the frequently asked questions on planning matters.
Is this FAQ only applicable to Amateur Radio?
No. Other forms of hobby radio are found in operation in the back yards of UK Citizens. This FAQ applies equally to those authorised by OFCOM, namely citizens band (CB) and private mobile radio aka PMR.
With thanks to an unknown artist this cartoon illustrates that neighbours may sometimes go to extreme lengths to discover what is going on in amateur radio stations in their community.
Who is the leading authority on planning matters related to Amateur Radio installations?
The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) is the authoritative source for all enquiries about planning matters and amateur radio antennas.
Does the RSGB represent all radio amateurs?
No. Only members of the RSGB. It does not normally represent CB or PMR Users unless they have a radio amateurs licence and are a member.
What are the benefits of Radio Hobbies to Health and Well-being?
The Chief Medical Officer (NHS), Mind and NHS Mental Health Trusts all recommend taking up a hobby. This is especially important in later years. It will help you to manage loneliness and keep your mind and body fit and active. With radio hobbies you can generate a lot of fun and keep in touch with a community of like minded people who enjoy experimenting in radio, TV, satellite and data communications or just chatting. A few hours a day, spent in the company of others or building a radio project are likely to be very satisfying, produce regular contact with people and release more of the essential hormones into your brain, than any anti-depressant tablet. Radio sports are available and radio amateurs can keep physically fit by operating portable from hill top sites. There is always something new to learn or challenge to achieve.
One facet of the hobby that many amateurs enjoy is building and testing antenna systems that give their station optimum performance. Radio Hams can operate in contests and gain certificates for the number of people or countries contacted etc. They really want to have the best radio station they can afford that keeps them in touch with their community of like minded people, and they mainly spend time comparing signals, sending data, (Text or video) voice and morse code transmissions around the world. As amateur radio is a service, he or she may be required to take part in disaster relief operations or assist the emergency services or red cross. As amateur radio is a self training service the radio amateur will be learning and teaching others or simply discussing the match or family matters. One British radio amateur kept the Falkland Islands Radio Station Live and gave a running commentary on the Argentinian invasion in 1982 – up until he was captured.
What is that Wire or Antenna?
To receive or transmit radio signals an antenna or antenna system is required. In domestic radio sets the antenna can be very simple and built into the set itself. To transmit a radio signal however requires an efficient antenna which can only perform well if it is constructed correctly.
Why does the antenna have to be so Large or Long?
To perform correctly the parts of the antenna that radiate a signal must be the correct length for the frequency in use. As amateur radio uses radio waves of wavelength from 160m to a few centimetres in length, (divided up into a number of “bands” like the medium wave band or VHF Band). For transmitting, the antenna length is critical for any given frequency and it can be quite long. Each band requires a different antenna length. Some compromise antennas have been developed that are shorter and more compact however performance may be an issue for some when it comes to using a compromise antenna.
Why are there so many different antennas in your system?
Amateurs use Long, Medium and Short Waves. They also use Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) or 70cm. Some amateur VHF and UHF Antenna resemble domestic VHF FM radio and TV Antennas. The amateur experimenter will want to experiment with a variety of different antenna and radio sets which cover the frequencies he or she is interested in. CB’ers use fixed length antenna, limited by their code of practice, as do PMR users.
What type of radiation does the antenna give off?
An antenna is said to radiate energy in the form of an electric or magnetic field. This is non ionising radiation. Antenna are usually designed to send out the maximum signal power all round or in a given direction. Simple vertical antennas radiate all of the power in a circular pattern around it, (It stands to reason that if you are stood in a point on the circumference of a circle you will receive a charge equivalent to a very small part of the actual power transmitted from a vertical antenna.)
Many designs are arranged to push (or radiate) the maximum signal in a given direction while radiating none in others. You may see such antenna being pointed in a particular direction by a device known as a rotator which is used to point it at the other radio station. These often resemble TV or domestic radio receiving antenna (which all point the same way – towards the TV transmitter). FM Domestic radio antenna often benefit from a rotator to point it at the required station. Its a way to receive the best signal for Hi-Fi enthusiasts. CB antenna are designed to limit the power being radiated to a very low level.
What power does an amateur radio station produce?
In order to radiate or transmit a radio signal, an amateur has a choice of power levels usually ranging from low power, measured in milliwatts (which would light a torch bulb) and going up typically to one hundred watts – the same power as a household electric light bulb. Amateurs are trained to keep power levels down as a condition of their licence. Some amateur radio stations operate to legal limits of four hundred watts, for maximum performance. Safety is also a part of the amateur radio exam syllabus.
Most amateur radio stations operate at power levels many times lower than those required to cause any harmful physiological effects – such as you would get from a nine hundred watt microwave oven if it was operated incorrectly for example. Many radio amateurs live long lives working and playing with radio waves and suffer no ill effects. CB Radios are designed to radiate limited, very low power levels in conjunction with a limited range of antennas so there is no danger that a CB or PMR radio will form a hazard and little chance it will interfere with other services like broadband and television sets (unless it is being operated illegally or misused).
Why does the antenna have to be so high?
Antennas that are in the clear from surrounding objects have a better chance of radiating as much power as possible in the required direction. Sometimes signals are blocked by objects and the antenna is constructed to get the signal over any obstacles.
Can you do all that from a council house garden the size of a postage stamp?
Many amateur and CB radio operators operate from all sorts of properties ranging from flats and bungalows with small gardens, to medium sized properties in housing estates. Some amateurs are lucky enough to buy their properties with a reasonable amount of real estate to accommodate their antenna systems, located in the best position to maximise signals. The majority live in average size properties and design their antenna systems to take into account the space available. Others rely on the generosity of their neighbours, who usually help by making allowances, such as being able to spread the antenna out across neighbouring properties. Good neighbours are supportive in this respect and usually enjoy hearing what it’s about.
Do I have to put up with that eyesore in your Garden?
Antennas at the lower end of the frequency range tend to be constructed of copper wire and usually these are laid horizontally the same as telegraph wires. As frequencies rise, the possibility to use copper, aluminium, wood and steel in the construction arises, giving a number of advantages. Radio amateurs generally buy commercial antenna equipment which is well designed and engineered. They realise that having structures to support the antenna in the garden is not “everybody’s cup of tea” but unless the property is in an area of outstanding natural beauty there will almost certainly be other radio masts nearby. There are always pylons, telegraph poles or street level mobile phone antennas in any district. These are allowed to exist under planning law. They support your mobile phone or electricity supply or personal communications (landline or Broadband). Most of these are in broad view at the front of our homes and earn revenue for their owners. Compared to these objects, most amateur radio antennas are located out of the public gaze, in our back gardens according to the minister for planning.
Before labelling an amateur radio antenna an eyesore you should look around the local area. If it contains uncollected rubbish, dumped scrap vehicles or has any of the objects in this discussion then we think it only fair to review it in context. The average solar power installation or wind generator is much more visible than the average amateur radio antenna which can be designed to blend in at the rear of the property – unlike most solar installations. Most amateurs would view their antenna and any supporting structure required to position or hold it at the correct height as essential to their hobby and therefore their lives. They pride themselves in engineering (and camouflaging) the system and will happily “live and let live” with whatever their neighbours construct in their gardens. Also there is no law to say a neighbour is entitled to a view across his neighbours property.
Will it cause interference to my TV or Radio?
It may, this is usually due to a defective TV or Radio set. In order to be immune to radio frequency interference, domestic equipment must be designed and produced to a standard. When this standard is not adhered to, equipment may succumb to nearby radio signals.
To limit the chance of interfering, Radio Hams are obliged to comply with licensing laws while CB’ers are required to obey a code of practice provided by the licensing authority, OFCOM. For amateur radio these rules state the radio station must not cause interference. Hams are trained to avoid interfering and have access to technical resources to help them (RSGB). CB’ers are limited by the power level of the radio and its antenna, complying with regulations
Who do I call if I find my broadband, radio or TV is being interfered with?
Your broadband service provider is well equipped to locate sources of interference. They have powers that enable them to investigate and advise the owner of defective equipment interfering with their services. The may ask the owner to close down and or modify any sources of interference found operating near their users equipment. They should be the first port of call in any complaint involving broadband.
The BBC are responsible for complaints about interference to TV and Radio. OFCOM provides a service and you can contact them or the BBC through their web portal here.
Will the council be able to help if I have a complaint?
Only where there is a planning or public safety issue. Local councils are not equipped or trained to deal with interference. You should approach the appropriate services and the council should direct you to them (see above). See questions related to planning below.
What can I do if I am approached by the council as a result of a complaint by a neighbour?
You should mention If:
You have been approached by any of your neighbours or,
You have not been approached by a neighbour with a complaint or
You are in any sort of dispute with a neighbour.
What if the council write to me about my antenna asking me to take it down or remove it?
You are not obliged to take it down unless an enforcement notice is served and then you have a right to appeal against the enforcement. If you do receive an enforcement notice then See Page 82 of RADCOM March 2018 for an article entitled an Unexpected Visitor. (this link may not be available yet and is only available to radio amateurs who have registered with the RSGB). Initially you should enter into a constructive dialog about your development with the official concerned. If you have constructed a de-minimis or permitted development point that out to begin with.
Is there a code of practice covering backyard antenna construction?
Yes. See the March 2018 Edition of RADCOM at the link above for further details. Like everyone we are obliged to get on with our neighbours. But we aren’t obliged to put up with certain types of behaviour.
The amateur radio code of practice is about maintaining friendly relations. This is the best situation of all because it creates an atmosphere of co-operation between neighbours. This is known as cohesion.
What if my neighbour is behaving badly towards me or my family?
If you think your neighbour is behaving badly you are entitled to take action. Certain behaviour can be persistent or unwanted such as trespass, criminal damage or excessive surveillance, and may themselves lead to further unwanted behaviour. This can be criminal behaviour under the freedom from harassment act et al. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust runs the National Stalking Helpline and can help you to decide how to tackle it.
Who should I go to if I have a complaint about a radio antenna?
Firstly find out if it legal or not by approaching the constructor. Although planning regulations may not explicitly say whether a particular type of antenna is permitted or not, the amateur constructor is subject to planning law, which allows permitted developments for example. The amateur radio code of practice covers planning regulations. Individual citizens are entitled to deal with complaints about them or their property. The complainer should first approach the neighbour with a view to rectifying any perceived problem. He or she should also think about mediation and gathering evidence about any perceived wrong doing before before taking a complaint to the council or reporting the object to the planning department.
What if I find my antenna subject to spurious or malicious complaints?
Where a complainer is anonymous, persistent, multiple, direct to an authority or comes from one or more neighbours it will be seen as anti social. In these circumstances the recipient may feel that it is persistent unwanted behaviour or stalking or harassment.
At the outset, he or she will keep a log of all dates and timings, notes of any conversations and the outcomes and also retain all correspondence. There is a right to video or record the conversation for the record.
Will my own devices, radio or TV interfere with an amateur radio station?
They may. A number of domestic devices such as computers, network equipment (Wifi Routers, power line network extenders etc) LED Lights, Street lights and other electronic devices, if defective, will cause interference to an amateur radio station. OFCOM are the authority for tracking and dealing with interference from such devices, which are usually defective or sub-standard in their design or build.
Does Amateur or Hobby radio Transmissions Cause Cancer?
There is no evidence that Amateur Radio causes cancer or any other illness. Many amateur radio operators spend much of their lives working in professional and amateur communication and have subsequently been exposed to Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation for long periods of time. They also have lived to an old age. While direct exposure to high power radio signals can cause physical injury such as RF burns. Amateur radio is governed by health and safety instructions and safe power limits are set. Additionally Radio hams have to answer questions in an examination before being allowed to operate. They are also subject to inspection. CB’ers and PMR users are limited to very low transmitting power.
What are the most common examples of Radio Transmitters in use in the UK?
All emergency services people have personal radio sets and operate mobile sets from the car as well as carrying mobile phones. Wifi covers almost the entire country and their low power transmitters are installed in most houses. There are two mobile phones for every man woman and child in Great Britain and to support these there are transmitters located by several mobile phone companies in most urban areas, (that’s housing estates and town centres.) as well as hilltop sites. Citizens Band and Private Mobile Radio. There are less amateur radio transmitters than all of these services.
Do Amateur Radio or Hobby radios affect Cardiac Pacemakers?
Radio amateurs have access to public liability insurance.
Is your antenna system safe?
There is a wealth of information about safety available to radio amateurs and training and support available via relevant experts when dealing with the physical construction of an antenna. Amateurs are allowed to construct supports under the terms of the town and country planning act, and sometimes these can look quite substantial. The constructor should always consult a builder and plan his supports according to standards.
All of these topics including Health and Safety are covered in the syllabus of the amateur radio exams. Before raising any concerns to the authorities, please ask the owner about the individual design if you are interested in its safety aspects. An amateur should be able to show you documents relating to most aspects of his radio station including its design specification.
Will your antenna system attract lightning?
It may. So may your house, high buildings or street furniture (lamp posts etc). Fortunately lightning strikes to amateur radio antenna are reasonably rare and precautions are available to protect equipment connected to the antenna. Even if the antenna is higher than the surrounding properties it does not necessarily follow that it will be hit before anything else in the area.
Other than planning law, do radio amateurs have to comply with any other regulations?
In council housing or rented accommodation, non domestic radio antennas are sometimes classed as alterations to the building and need the permission of the landlord before being constructed. The landlord may wish the radio amateur to prove that they have planning permission or an exemption if it is available. For council tenants you may ask the council for a copy of their rules. See also RADCOM March 2018 an Unexpected Visitor.
What are the most common nuisances that can be attributed to amateur radio antenna?
Noise. Often people complain about noise from the antenna wires or structure caused by the wind. As this is only a problem usually when it is windy, or the location is extremely remote and exposed, occasions when it occurs will be few and far between. Moreover it will be unlikely that this type of noise is solely attributable to the antenna, but may come from telegraph wires or the buildings surrounding the antenna themselves. If you can hear the Ham next door getting excited or talking loudly to his compatriots, then you might like to measure the noise level before raising a complaint to the council or have them measure it. It would be fair to consider some level of sound proofing but most hams would be prepared to carry out changes to their own property or operating hours in order not to inconvenience our neighbours. (As data transmissions is an available choice you may never hear any noise as this is carried out via a keyboard and screen.)
What forms of nuisance are suffered by radio amateurs?
Fake News. Radio is a technical hobby. It requires study of the underlying theory behind it. There is an epidemic of fake news in the media, made famous by the US President Donald Trump. Usually this is designed to cause trouble by presenting unsubstantiated facts of dubious origin. Before responding to any sources of information it is best to consult an authoritative source before drawing any conclusions.
Malicious reports about antenna on the amateurs property. See www.strugl.org
Faulty or poorly designed equipment. In neighbouring properties, equipment often causes interference to the amateur radio service. If you are approached by or on behalf of an amateur radio service user they may ask you to help to test for sources of “noise” caused by defective equipment. This is usually quite simple and involves switching it off to help identify the source. If faulty or noisy equipment is identified during the test, they may ask you to repair or replace it or offer to help you to do so, by paying for the repair for example. Do I have to cooperate if I am asked to switch off offending equipment? You do. Under the wireless telegraphy act, it is an offence to interfere with radio and tv services and he may ask OFCOM to investigate it. They may serve an enforcement notice.
What planning process is applicable to amateur and hobby radio?
The same process applicable to property developments in the UK.
Do I have to have my neighbours permission to put up an amateur radio or CB antenna?
Only if its on their property. Check your deeds or contract. What you do on your property is your business but if it is rented you must seek your landlords permission. If you own the property you should obey or address any covenants (listed in the deeds).
As part of the planning process you will have to canvass the neighbours for their views on any planning applications you submit.
Do Radio Amateurs have a sense of Humour?
We think so, after all its a hobby and humour is part of enjoying your life.
With thanks to Hatlo for this image from ca 1935 Radio amateurs have traditionally taken the blame for some very unusual things.
Copyright: SDPlus 2017 and the Armando Martins Campaign. Not to be reproduced without permission of the author.
It can be pretty hard to tell whether our neighbours, school mates or work colleagues are our enemies or our friends. This is due to a number of human characteristics. As we progress through life we are drilled into teams and indoctrinated to believe cooperation and competition are healthy. (Sometimes things are won by fair means or foul((but thats OK provided you are the winner)). Life revolves around getting on with people i.e. you must fit in, otherwise we are at fault and are rejected. Really. Because of this sometimes we put our trust in people we should not and our friends turn out to be anything but friendly. When people are your enemy you may never know what they are doing, actively or passively to work against you, but when they do it can have a devastating effect on your life. You would need to be a detective to be alert to the danger of allowing the wrong people access to your life, your property, your work or your wealth. You hear all the time in the news, Be alert! Scammers are teaming up to to rob people by masquerading as officials to inspect their property and while one of them keeps you busy the other is robbing your purse. One cyber security expert thinks that the internet is a dangerous place – he opens his lectures by airing the startling fact that 99.99999998% of people are your enemies and out for themselves, to steal from you or damage you in some way to their advantage and he then asks would you let them in your front door? Before outlining the type of security measures needed to keep people out of your computer.
Am I Just being Paranoid?
Most people when they air concerns about people acting against them will come across the re-assurance of their “friends” telling them “you are just being paranoid”. The late Dr Tim Field said that it would be naive, not to apply a level of vigilance to your life, your property and your wealth. Yet paranoia is a mental illness and this is used in a derogatory way to disarm careful people by introducing doubt about the way they think. He introduced the fact that hyper-vigilance which is similar to paranoia as a symptom of PTSD which people who have been traumatised feel when they are reminded of the events. (People who have been bullied will also have flashbacks, and sleepless nights from their experiences.)
Humans take pride in their achievements but among our emotions are jealously and envy. People are motivated by their activities and achievements, be it a job well done, a new creation at home or in the garden, a new acquisition, reaching a particular level in sport or games or showing courage and leadership. All of these signal success. Our friends are people who share that success and partner with us to achieve it, they share our achievements and support us to meet our goals. There are a number of sides to this: If you are selfish and don’t share credit or recognise the contribution of others, you would pretty soon demotivate your friends if you weren’t careful. Also it is easy to see that if people aren’t included in the activity they can become jealous or envious of an achievement and want to copy it or own it themselves – no problem if they know how, but the deviant may steal it or usurp the credit. People lead by setting examples, successful people teach and mentor others.
Live and Let Live
Normal is being able to recognise that some people get to the head of the queue before others and that is their life. Accepting your place in the hierarchy and making your own way in the world give satisfaction. Exceptionally handing your achievements to an exceptional team member or some body who needs it more than you are a sign of distinction. When negative emotions come together, people with good emotional skills can recognise and deal with it – using tact and diplomacy for example. We live and let live.
Some people however cheat and steal their way to the head of the queue, and take advantage of others – after all – all is fair in love and war. These people think nothing of others and focus everything on themselves, acting to the detriment of whoever is in the way. They are out to steal your life if they can get it, or destroy it. Their aim is to put you further down the hierarchy than them. Often because they can’t dominate you or achieve superiority fairly, toxic people will resort to devious means. Sometimes this type of behavior can be fun, (when its between equals and without ego) often it can be to teach a lesson. When a toxic character is active their actions may be covert, malicious acts, hidden from you perhaps disguised as fun or banter, or it can be overt, designed to humiliate you in public for example. Focusing on the malicious behaviour of toxic people, the ultimate aim is destruction by eroding the targets self esteem and confidence. A number of techniques are available for this purpose.
What sort of activities do our enemies get up to?
Toxic Work Places.
Deviant toxic bosses create stress by: Setting work targets that are un-achievable, withdrawing funds and support or by forcing their victim to go through stressful, prolonged and repetitive work processes. They can engineer bad feedback in annual reports or threaten to by-pass the law by giving bad verbal references limiting peoples careers. They may also resort to goal blocking – actively and covertly preventing people from meeting their target(s) or interfering with their motivational projects. The pleasure these people get is from watching people struggle and the satisfaction of promoting their sycophants above good people – because their social skills are “better”. In the NHS the author has observed untrained and inexperienced sycophants taking over their colleagues jobs after the colleague had been successful at it for a number of years. This particular tool gives senior managers in the NHS the opportunity to by-pass legitimate promotion routes and give jobs to their favourite employees – in return for favours. Many people feel let down by this in the NHS, and for that reason the NHS is viewed as a toxic workplace. It spends a lot of money countering this by spinning it and covering it up with taboos. The NHS says it is out to change this culture, but resistance is high among people who would lose power if it did. In the authors experience, having a toxic boss in your life limits it – even if that person eventually reveals himself as criminal, the damage is done.
In the neighbourhood, toxic neighbours often apply similar behavior, limiting a victims enjoyment of their property. They act by humiliating and dominating their victim. Some such actions may come out of the desire for revenge where the assailant picks on various aspects of the victims life such as his or her hobby or property developments, by directly interfering in them. They bragg about it in public or behind the victims back, trashing their work or new new creations or rubbish the victims efforts poisoning their lives.
Unfortunately while the law exists to deal with this – it is expensive and difficult to apply making the neighbourhood a playground for toxic people.