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

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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  • ASBOS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @04:54AM (#39162701)

    Seriously folks, you have to Google them.
    One basic summary of them is that you can issue an ASBO to stop someone from doing something *that isn't a crime*, if they then break the order, then *that is a crime* and you can arrest and jail them.

  • Re:Unenforceable? (Score:4, Informative)

    by philip.paradis ( 2580427 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @04:56AM (#39162709)

    How do you stop four friends talking to each other if they are not incarcerated?

    You stop them by threatening to incarcerate them if they break the order. Add in a dash of behind the scenes, off the record, "if any of you violate this order, we'll be very nice to any of the others that report it to us" and you have a winning combination.

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:00AM (#39162727) Journal
    This is terrible. There are already laws in place to prevent the "anti-social" aspects of what these guys did. They were arrested and charged with these crimes (a caution does count as a conviction). Every urban explorer knows this is a risk.

    ASBOs are meant to deal with anti social behaviour that isn't actually criminal. The only "anti-social" aspect of their behaviour was the illegal part.
  • Re:No. (Score:3, Informative)

    by ybanrab ( 2556762 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:46AM (#39162837)
    Yes it does, you need a guilty mind and a guilty act to constitute a crime. []
  • Re:ASBOS (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bongo ( 13261 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:55AM (#39162855)

    That's right. The "healthy" side of ASBOs is that there are a lot of things which are bad but not technically illegal. Dropping money in the street is not illegal. Screaming loudly during sex is not illegal. But paedophiles have been known to drop money outside school gates to entice children to pick it up and come over and offer it back. Some woman was screaming loudly during sex repeatedly and ignoring requests from neighbours that she quieten down. So do you let it go on, or do the authorities have something to do? ASBOs are very specific, there's maybe a few dozen in one city per year, and you have to apply to a judge to have one granted. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with them, they are quite scary, but so are some of the things people do "legally". The ones I've heard about, judges just don't like granting ASBOs. The ASBO has to be very specific. If the police catch you breaching the terms of the ASBO then they can arrest you. People often say that ASBOs don't work because half the time people breach them anyway, but that's the point -- breaching it allows the police to arrest you.

  • check out their site (Score:5, Informative)

    by dr_blurb ( 676176 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:00AM (#39162861)

    Check out their site: silentuk [], very cool pictures there.

    Here are the Aldwych station pictures []

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

    by blackest_k ( 761565 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:05AM (#39162879) Homepage Journal

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

    If there was any breaking involved then it might be, but if they didn't break in then it generally isn't.

    In London there are a large numbers of squatters occupying various empty buildings. While it is illegal to break in. it isn't illegal to enter and live there if the building isn't secure. They can even install their own locks. Yes an owner can apply to the court to remove squatters but until the court issues an order they can stay. I believe that if someone occupies a place for five years then they can even get ownership (take that with a pinch of salt).

    Asbo's on the other hand do not need a law to be broken to be applied for and granted. Currently there are Asbo's being served on homeless people in order to be able to remove them from central london in time for the olympic games later this year, (this I know from a lawyer trying to represent one of said homeless people).

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

    by Lunar_Lamp ( 976812 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:29AM (#39162955) Homepage
    This is not a ruling. A court hasn't applied this ASBO, it's just TFL requesting it.
  • Re:Unenforceable? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cardpuncher ( 713057 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:34AM (#39162971)

    It's unenforceable in the sense that most of it would almost certainly (if initially granted) fall foul of the Human Rights Act. It would be entirely disproportionate to stop people communicating with each other.

    I'd imagine TfL would be able to get an ASBO against trespassing on the railway - it's an unbelievably stupid and dangerous thing to do especially in the confined tunnels of the London Underground - but they'd have a hard time making the rest of it stick.

    Why would they even try? Well, I've worked (fortunately briefly) for TfL and I found them a very weird organisation with a very paternalistic attitude to both staff and passengers; I always felt an underlying sense that you might be hauled off to the Gulag if you failed to toe the party line and I'm not really surprised that they have overreacted in such a spectacular fashion.

    Aldwych Station is, ironically, opened up to visitors fairly often so there's no particular difficulty in getting to see it. I went several years back and you can probably gauge some of the internal contradictions at TfL from the fact that we were encouraged to take photographs by the (enthusiastic and knowledgeable) engineer leading the tour but told not to make them publicly available as it would upset the marketing department that makes money out of selling images and result in future tours being cancelled. There has recently been controversy about a ban on DSLRs and Tripods at Aldwych Station ( which again might appear to be as much about preserving TfL's image rights as anything else.

    So although there's a clear public safety issue in the original incident, I think this has much more to do with TfL wanting to let everyone know they're the boss. Which is an odd position for a publicly-owned and funded body to take.

  • Re:ASBOS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:47AM (#39163013) Homepage Journal

    GP is wrong. Causing a breach of the peace and being a pediodiddlerist are illegal.

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

    by amck ( 34780 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:47AM (#39163015) Homepage

    Bylaws are local council ( or in this case transport authority) laws.
    Fines can be levied, etc. but they cannot be criminally prosecuted : the local authority can bring you to court, but not criminal court; for that a case has to be prepared by the police for the Director of Public Prosecutions (an independent prosecutor).

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:55AM (#39163031)

    Adverse Possesson. At least ten years (often twelve), openly and continuously occupied. The reason to have this rule is, suppose you mistakenly build something in very slightly the wrong place. Well, if someone notices while they're still building it, or shortly after, you have a big argument with various builders, architects, map makers, etc. and then you end up claiming on insurance to either buy the extra little bit of land or have your wall re-built in the right place. But suppose they only notice 20 years later, by which time probably the company of builders don't exist any more, the architect has retired... it can't be that important or they'd have noticed sooner, and making you tear down a wall (or even a whole house) is disproportionate, so instead the land transfers to you if the problem comes before a court.

    But yes, if you go onto a piece of private land, build a permanent structure like a house on it, and nobody stops you from building and occupying the strucure for twelve years, then you own the land it was built on outright.

  • Re:Reall, Britain? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @08:49AM (#39163293) Homepage Journal

    *cough* poll tax riots

    *cough* student fees riots

    *cough* 1 million people marching through London against the Iraq war

    What have **you ever done**, what civil disobedience (what a term!) have you participated in ?

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

    by Hogwash McFly ( 678207 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @09:38AM (#39163407)

    not fair

    Life isn't fair.

  • by waterbear ( 190559 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @09:47AM (#39163459)

    you need a guilty mind and a guilty act to constitute a crime.

    The law might have been like that once, but it isn't now (strict criminal liability) [].

    Strict liability is one of those things that seems to creep in when it seems to lawmakers like a good idea at the time. But once it's in place, the lawmakers find it rather easy to overextend it, and make it cover more and more matters that many people would say ought to be judged under the old standard of intent.


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

    by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @02:46PM (#39165455)

    The laws vary by state. Are you saying that in the UK you can hop a fence and it's not a crime? In my state, you cannot.

    There are two different legal systems in the UK. Scottish law does have an offence called "entering lockfast premises". So it's illegal to bypass a barrier and enter an otherwise-secured area.

    Entering someone's house/building without authorisation is a criminal offence, but you cannot be taken to court for this alone. It can only be presented on a charge sheet with another crime. If you break a window or door to get in, it's chargeable. If you walk in and punch someone, it's chargeable. If you walk in and steal a TV. It's chargeable. But if you walk in and walk out, it's not chargeable.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake