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4 UK Urban Explorers Face Orders Not To Talk With Each Other For 10 Years 387

Posted by timothy
from the and-proud-we-are-of-all-of-them dept.
First time accepted submitter Trapezium Artist writes "Four friends apprehended exploring the disused Aldwych station in London's Underground are faced with an 'anti-social behaviour order' (ASBO) which would forbid them from talking to each other for a full 10 years. The so-called 'Aldwych four,' experienced urban explorers, were discovered in the tunnels under the UK's capital city a few days before last year's royal wedding and the greatly increased security measures in place led to their being interviewed by senior members of the British Transport Police. Nevertheless, once their benign intentions had been established, they were let off with a caution. However, following an accident caused by another, unrelated group of urban explorers in the tunnels a few months later, Transport for London applied to have ASBOs issued to the Aldwych four. These would forbid them from any further expeditions, from blogging or otherwise publicly discussing any exploits, and even from talking with each other for the 10 year duration of the order. One could argue about the ethics of urban exploration, but this nevertheless seems like an astonishingly heavy-handed over-reaction by TfL."
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4 UK Urban Explorers Face Orders Not To Talk With Each Other For 10 Years

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  • by mykos (1627575) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @04:45AM (#39162669)
    I don't think anyone has been told who they can and can't be friends with since they were about 10. Now the government gets to decide? Alan Moore is a prophet.
  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jmanamj (1077749) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @04:45AM (#39162671)

    I swear to God. This is the premise for a fiction/science fiction novel. If two of the 4 were developing romantic feelings for each other the UK could be sued for copyright infringement by several publishers. I dont...I dont think I'm OK with the world right now. I need a hug. Before that's banned too.

  • Are they serious? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by msobkow (48369) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @04:48AM (#39162675) Homepage Journal

    They were let off with a warning, but some bozo expects to issue a court order demanding that a group of friends NOT EVEN TALK TO EACH OTHER for a DECADE?

    WTF?

    I mean, seriously, WTF?!?!?!?!

  • Unenforceable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sam_paris (919837) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @04:49AM (#39162679)
    I may be completely missing the point here, but this ruling seems completely unenforceable. How do you stop four friends talking to each other if they are not incarcerated? There are a hundred and one ways to talk to people in this modern age and many of those are anonymous and not easily tracked or monitored.

    This just seems like one of those sentences which is "harsh" to make a point but doesn't actually make any difference to how these men will communicate. That said, it's also completely ridiculous that these people with no ill intent were made such an example of, and that they were given a punishment which is illogical and far too much trouble than it's worth to enforce.
  • by alienzed (732782) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @04:50AM (#39162681) Homepage
    Yeah, like, another country.
  • Re:No. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @04:59AM (#39162721)

    The world has never been so kind as this before. Grow up.

  • Re:Unenforceable? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:02AM (#39162731)

    It's still breaking and entering. Call it urban exploring or whatever, but tresspassing is still illegal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:13AM (#39162757)

    You confuse two things here

    a. The publicly stated reason for the introduction of the ASBO, "antisocial control"
    b. The true intended function - a device for making the legal, illegal, and therefore actionable...

    It was never about anything other than giving them a legal device to criminalise non-criminal behaviour, to be used as and when they required. Having it on the statute books for so long unchallenged also gives them a precedent.

  • FUCK THE UK! (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:20AM (#39162785)

    The UK has become a third-world nation with a first-rate Nanny State.

  • Re:Unenforceable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nursie (632944) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:21AM (#39162787)

    This is why the ASBO is and has always been a foul addition to British law.

    Someon is doing something not illegal, but deemed anti-social, they can be issued with an anti-social-behaviour-order to constrain their activities. Even if the order tries to stop them doing something completely legal, they can be fined or imprisoned fro breaking it. It's a horrific abuse of the law, I just hope that sooner or later someone takes this through to the ECHR and gets the whole ASBO scheme shut down.

    Someone asked me the other day about why I hated the labour party in the UK. That ASBOs were introduced on their watch is something I forgot at the time, it'll be in there next time someone asks me.

  • Re:Unenforceable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:25AM (#39162801)

    It's still breaking and entering. Call it urban exploring or whatever, but tresspassing is still illegal.

    And the punishment should fit the crime.
    They could have tried them, they chose to only issue a warning. Attempting to upgrade the penalties without filing additional charges is not justice.

  • Re:Unenforceable? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hopelessliar (575886) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:46AM (#39162835)

    It's still breaking and entering. Call it urban exploring or whatever, but tresspassing is still illegal.

    Obviously, I haven't read TFA, but the summary says nothing about breaking and entering. Trespassing is a very different thing. IANAL but I think you'll find that in the UK if you're caught trespassing - assuming you haven't done anything else 'criminal' - then the first redresss of the property owner is to ask you to leave. As long as you comply with that request, there is no crime.

    I could google this and checl my facts but it's Sunday morning, I just got up and it's far easier to just write something I vaguely recall as though it were definitely true - which, by the way, I think it is.

  • Re:Unenforceable? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by r1348 (2567295) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:50AM (#39162845)
    It's breaking and entering long time abandoned structures that nobody cares about, and for no malicious intentions. Alright, give them a fine if you catch them, but this orwellian ASBO order is way beyond reasonable. Now governments have the right to regulate and forbid social interactions? I'm not very accustomed to British law: how common are these ASBOs, and what is their typical use case?
  • by anonymov (1768712) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:53AM (#39162849)

    > why not call them 'burglars'?

    Better yet, call them "terrorists" and the public will immediately see how bad and wrong they are.

    After all, nomenclature, not what someone actually did, is what really matters.

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:10AM (#39162897) Homepage

    As a kid, what is now called "urban exploration" was a treasured hobby. Living in a big, boring government city, we'd ride our bikes far and wide in search of interesting areas and abandoned buildings. And by "we", I mean about half the kids my age. We'd venture out in groups, anywhere from two to ten of us, exploring all sorts of out-of-view places like unmanned water supply hubs, underground walkways, decommissioned train stations and the abandoned warehouses. The worst thing we ever encountered were a pair of crackheads who threatened to steal our bikes. So they got their asses beat by a pack of little kids with rocks and sticks :)

    At no point in any of this did we feel like we were harming persons or property. We didn't even tag stuff, we just wanted to admire cool spots and all the kitschy 60's and 70's crap that has been left behind. To criminalize such acts of natural curiosity seems patently ridiculous to me. That said, it's not kosher to sneak around an active subway system past security lines, but I'd like to suggest an alternative solution: official tours of the abandoned subway stations! People like to see those out-of-the-way areas, so why not charge them a couple bucks and have guide safely lead would-be explorers in a perfectly legal manner. Sure, for some it takes away the thrill of sneaking around, but at least for myself, the goal was never to break laws, it was merely satisfying my curiosity.

    As an aside, my high school was situated in a 150 year old castle, erected by one of the region's pioneers and eventually donated to the church, who repurposed it as an agricultural college in the early 20th century. Like many buildings of the era, it had vast underground catacombs and passageways connecting the various buildings, as well as upper levels that formerly housed residents, staff, and clergymen. They even had their own barber shop up there! We had an underground tunnel lined with lockers, something many of us considered a privilege as it conferred some peace and privacy. Most of these areas were not used during my time, but we were invited to explore, with guided tours arranged at least a few times a year. If you knew the routes, you could get to any building without stepping outside, a welcome luxury on rainy days or in -40'C winter storms. And if the indoors weren't your thing, there was a 30 acre forest island with beaches, rapids, a large rock formation, abandoned booths and small cabins from sporting events dating back 50-60 years, and all sorts of places to climb. Snooping around is what we did for fun, and it was encouraged!

    It sure beats what today's kids do: sit around, baked out of their minds as they escape the mindlessness of our scared society.

  • Is it even legal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:14AM (#39162917)

    I know that the British legal system is somewhat different than the continental one, but I thought that getting punished twice for the same crime was forbidden everywhere in the civilised world. After they got a caution for what they did, on what grounds can they be punished again for it?

  • Re:ASBOS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:17AM (#39162921)

    So do you let it go on, or do the authorities have something to do?

    Something that isn't illegal? You let it go on, obviously! Until there is a law that makes these things illegal, free people doing legal things should tell the police to fuck off, and not apologize. If they want to step it up, they should press charges against the police who is trying to interfere with legal activities for arbitrary acts by the authorities. WTF is wrong with people that this even needs explaining?

  • Re:Unenforceable? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:28AM (#39162947)

    You think the SNP care about Scotland? No, they are politicians who a want to go down in history as having achieved indendance and b) increase their own power by removing power from Westminster. If you think it is anything to do with what is right for Scotland you are a fool.

  • by TheLink (130905) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:42AM (#39162995) Journal
    Will someone please apply to put the relevant people in the TfL under an ASBO?

    Attempting to force 4 friends not to talk to each other for 10 years is anti-social behaviour.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:46AM (#39163011)

    I'm curious what an "appropriate" force would have been then. Throwing the TV remote at them? Turning around and walking away while saying "shucks, I do hope they really are leaving and aren't just trying to find a way to attack me by surprise"?

    If people broke into my home and I saw them, I would feel threatened until the police captured them. Since the people obviously had no problem breaking into my home once, I would have no reason to believe they wouldn't come back to prevent me from potentially identifying them. Historical precedent had proven that Tony Martin could not count on the police to do anything, so he did the only thing he could do to protect himself.

    Call me a crazy, freedom-loving, right-wing nutjob if you want to, but I just can't feel sorry for someone who's purposefully destroying and stealing other people's property and threatening their safety.

  • Re:FUCK THE UK! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oobayly (1056050) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @07:16AM (#39163089)

    For various reasons, I stopped buying US products years ago.

    Anyway it's sad that the country which created the Bill of rights [wikipedia.org] (although numerous clauses have been all but repealed by the PATRIOT act) and other documents of personal liberty has come to this.

    Unfortunately the UK is heading towards the same direction.

    I'm not trying to be an arse - I completely agree with you, but in reality both countries are as bad as each other.

    Just today I was reading about a retired UK businessman [wikipedia.org] that has been extradited to the US for making £500 for transporting batteries to the Netherlands. He says he was the target of entrapment. The US say he's an arms dealer as the batteries were destined for anti-aircraft missiles in Iran (which were sold to them by the US).

    Who's the worst? The US for extraditing somebody on flimsy evidence, or the UK for handing over one of their citizen without being allowed to examine the evidence. I think we can all agree that we're all losers.

  • Re:ASBOS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Totenglocke (1291680) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @07:19AM (#39163109)
    Not to mention the only people complaining about loud sex are ones who are bitter that they're not getting laid. ;-)
  • by donscarletti (569232) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @07:50AM (#39163177)
    I personally doubt any magistrate would actually give this order. TFL can ask for the guys to be hang drawn and quartered if they like, it doesn't mean the bench will agree.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @07:58AM (#39163201)

    You quoted the BBC's examples. e.g. the wheel clamper:

    "Not only was he clamping cars parked on land where he had no licence to operate, but he once impounded a police car. "

    The crime he committed was extracting money with menace. However that's a pain for the police to prosecute, you know they'd have to record his actions and take witness evidence etc. Far easier to get a magistrate (magistrates are not legally trained, they are not lawyers they are laypeople), to issue an ASBO.

    I don't think ASBO has a real use, its used because it's so easy to use. It's exactly because it's easy to get that it's used instead of a real prosecution.
    But it ends up with this and many more ridiculous nonsense. The idea that freedom of speech is so low, that trespass (which is not a crime BTW) trumps it? Who decided this? Parliament? No, one layperson. All it takes for rights to disappear is one layperson in the UK it seems.

  • Re:Unenforceable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jacks0n (112153) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @08:45AM (#39163281)

    Ownership requires stewardship. It is a responsibility that the old aristocracy understood, but the new aristocracy seems to think the government should do for them at no cost.

  • by karlandtanya (601084) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @09:52AM (#39163481)

    Sounds more like a bill of attainder.

    This kind of thing is a serious hazard to liberty (remember when that word didn't mark the speaker as a crackpot? wasn't so long ago). The law only applies to a few of us. So there is no outcry. Nibble, nibble, nible, oops--all your freedoms are gone! We didn't wait for amendments to prohibit this one. It's in Article I, sec IX. It took almost 90 years and a civil war for us to figure out that freedom applies to everyone or no-one. [wikipedia.org] Even those members of society we don't like.

    Good to know thing that sort of thing can never happen here.
    Again. [wikipedia.org]

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @10:24AM (#39163669)
    The kid who was killed had been 29 times by the time he was killed at the age of 16 and had just been released that day on bail for another burglary. May I suggest that the people responsible for his death were the members of the English judicial system who failed to administer sufficient punishment to him to convince him that committing burglary and assault were a bad idea? What reason did Tony Martin have to believe that they would not return and assault him on another occasion?
  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:38AM (#39164145) Journal

    You can twist up the theoretical limits of this order all you like, as if you were a catholic schoolboy trying to find a loophole to get out of some medieval church ritual, but these people can live their lives pretty normally. They should just not be dicks about trying to circumvent the intent of the order.

    According to TFA, the order being sought does not state an intent. It states a number of independent requirements to be legally imposed on the affected persons. One of these requirements is that they should not communicate with each other for 10 years. In other words, if they communicated in any way at all in the 10 year period - even just one asking another what the time is - they would be in actual breach of the order being sought. A communication between them would be in breach no matter what its topic or content, and no matter whether it employed speech, sign language, text message, Royal Mail letter, semaphore flags, Morse code, or any other medium.

    Or is that too complicated a concept for you?

    Apparently, the simple language of the order being sought is not nearly complicated enough for your twisted interpretation. A ban on communication between persons is quite simple, and it clearly would preclude all direct exchange of information, opinion, gossip, etc.

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @11:57AM (#39164243)

    It took another 100 years [wikipedia.org] to get serious about starting to put those ideas into practice, and there's still a long way to go [wikipedia.org].

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