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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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  • by sethstorm ( 512897 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @04:44AM (#39162667) Homepage

    I'd imagine there'd be a way to comply with the heavy-handed order while having a venue that is out of reach of the ASBO.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:02AM (#39162733)

    You incarcerate them when you catch them breaking the ruling. ASBOs are a huge end-run around due process, being civil orders that are written with the intention that they'll be broken so that criminal penalties can be applied.

    I remember this government admitting that ASBOs didn't work and promising to do something about them, but nothing seems to have changed.

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

    by pacc ( 163090 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:06AM (#39162747) Homepage

    We forbid you to do forbidden things,
    And when you do it you can' t tell anyone,
    And tell us immediately if you do it,
    Because you will, won't you

  • Striesand Effect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by djl4570 ( 801529 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:14AM (#39162763) Journal
    Streisand Effect.
    It is very disturbing to read that anyone seeking to take pictures of an abandoned or unused subway stations are subject to any sort of "Anti social" order. Taking pictures of a disused public conveyance is hardly "antisocial." Given the violent tendencies of yobs and chavs I've read about elsewhere; law enforcement in this jurisdiction has better things to do with their time.
    BTW Did they ever let Tony Martin out of jail or is he still a danger to burglars?
  • Re:Unenforceable? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Will_TA ( 549461 ) <> on Sunday February 26, 2012 @05:54AM (#39162853) Homepage
    To get there you have to go over the active tracks, on the underground. Trespass on the tracks, past any notice that forbids it is a criminal offence under byelaws.
  • by Shemmie ( 909181 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:03AM (#39162871)

    "The oldest recipient of an order to date is an 87-year-old who among other things is forbidden from being sarcastic to his neighbours (July 2003). He was subsequently found guilty of breaking the terms of his order on three separate occasions. He awaits sentencing but the judge has already made it clear that "there will be no prison for an 88 year old man". (Source—Statewatch ASBOwatch)"

    I know ASBOs are a farce, but jesus, I didn't know how far we had sunk - as a Brit, I'm amazed at this list of more controversial ASBOs - []

  • by F69631 ( 2421974 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:11AM (#39162899)

    I understand that he had been burgled many times before (losing a total of about 10 000 dollars) and that he had all the right to be frustrated about police inaction... That said, he had no reason to believe he was under any threat when he fired his shotgun at the backs of two people who were trying to flee through the window, killing one and injuring the other. The court thought that he was clearly using inappropriate force and he spent 3 years in jail after which he was let free because he behaved well.

    Call me crazy freedom-hating left-wing nutjob if you want to, but I don't think that anyone has the right to execute people without a trial if it's not in self-defense... especially when it comes to crimes that don't carry a death penalty in the first place.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:24AM (#39162939)

    The point of an ASBO is that magistrates can basically make up a law on the spot and announce that it applies to just a few people.

    In theory, it's meant to deal with small numbers - maybe as few as one - of people that are known to cause trouble by making it illegal for them to do things that would normally be perfectly OK because most people would be able to apply some common sense - but in their case aren't. Essentially it gives some flexibility when you've got someone who's discovered a way of persistently annoying people but can usually stay on the right side of the law. The BBC picked up some good examples [] a few years ago.

    Critics have pointed out that it's absolutely ripe for abuse.

  • by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:28AM (#39162951) Journal

    I'd imagine there'd be a way to comply with the heavy-handed order while having a venue that is out of reach of the ASBO.

    Can they communicate indirectly, via mutual friends?

    If not, then since they likely have a number of mutual friends, they are effectively being told not to communicate with anyone who communicates with others in the affected group. After all, what if a mutual friend mentions something one of the other members of the affected group said? How about indirect communication via two degrees of separation? If they are forbidden from indirect contact, then the order is perilously close to requiring solitary confinement or other drastic social exclusion.

    An exclusion which prohibits communication with mutual friends is likely a good test case for the ECJ [] or the ECHR []. Similarly, an order which imposes an onerous obligation on mutual friends which were not subjects of the order, would be a good test case for said mutual friends to bring to the ECJ or ECHR.

  • by gilleain ( 1310105 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:46AM (#39163009)
    Reminds me of a story by Will Self called 'Between the Conceits', the first in the book Grey Area []. In it, all of London is controlled by just 7 people, who communicate with each other by elaborate mass orchestration of mundane movements of the other Londoners.

    I stretch, then relax - and 33,665 white-collar workers leave their houses a teensy bit early for work. This means the 6,014 of them will feel dyspeptic during the journey because they've missed their second piece of toast, or bowl of Fruit 'n' Fibre. From which it followed that 2,982 of them will be testy through the morning; and therefore 312 of them will say the wrong thing, leading to dismissal; hence one of these 312 will lose the balance of his reason and commit an apparently random and motiveless murder on the way home.

    Hmm. Don't think I can really explain this with one quote. The first chapter is readable here [].

  • Re:ASBOS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @06:55AM (#39163037) Journal

    I don't see why we need to make dropping money on the streets illegal. That story about pedophiles smells like a bullshit excuse, and even if it isn't, it's still not a good enough reason.

    As for loud sex... there are generally laws on the books already that regulate noise in general. If it's not loud enough to be covered by those noise, then I don't see why it should be illegal, either.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 26, 2012 @08:17AM (#39163237)

    They now appear to be using asbos on repeat offenders of actual crime to strengthen the punishments available. There is a repeat offender from London who travels to Scotland to steal the eggs of protected birds, he now has an asbo preventing him from travelling to Scotland during hatching season.

    IIRC the asbo increase the maximum sentence for egg theft (6 months) to 5 years.

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Sunday February 26, 2012 @09:30AM (#39163389)

    Yes, I suspect this wont survive judicial review in court.

    But then, they repeatedly gave the lady who was too noisy when having sex ASBOs and seemed to win in court when she carried on fucking regardless of them so who knows.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein