Friday, 10 July 2020

Commercial Metal Detecting Rallies Get the Boris go-Ahead

Now that Britain has created an effective mobile phone tracking system as advanced as the ones developed in the EU to safeguard the public, the NCMD has just published this:
Covid 19 Update 9th July 2020
Larger digs are now allowed in England Digs for up to 30 people were permitted from the 4th July. Today the DCMS have confirmed that businesses and charitable trusts (amongst others) may run events for more than 30 people. [...] However please note that this still means that anyone running digs who are not a registered business may still restricted by law to 30 people (including support staff). We will seek legal advice for club events and issue guidance when we have it. However please note we do not represent commercial dig organisers and they should seek their own legal counsel if they are unsure of the law. We strongly urge every event organiser to comply fully with these rules and procedures. New regulations allow for on the spot fines and/ or prosecution if they are found to be in breach of the regulations. [...] Finally, we urge you to please protect our hobby’s reputation and be responsible in organising events, and avoid attending illegal digs at this time
 So, instead of uselessly patrolling in fluorescent yellow-painted cars in order to catch the chronically colour-blind nighthawk in action, police rural crime units can visit rallies and award spot fines to any irresponsible behaviour noted. Dodgy rallies should be easier to find than nighthawks, bigger. Note the NCMD suggesting avoiding illegal metal detecting "at this time"


Hougenai said...

The devil is in the detail. It is possible to hold Charity or business events for more than 30 if they comply with certain conditions.
The gathering organiser must carry out a full risk assessment to satisfy regulation £ of the Management of H&S at Work Regs 1999.
The gathering organiser takes all reasonable measures to limit risk of transmission especially in connection with the risk assessment.

In addition the gathering should be 'reasonably necessary' for work, or the provision of voluntary or charitable services.

In my opinion a grabfest is not reasonably necessary under those or other specified terms and it would be interesting to hear that PAS, EH or whoever are protecting heritage with a legal challenge on this basis. (how essential is a few bob donation to charity?)
Also considering the general level of cooperation with 'authority' usual in detecting circles I sincerely doubt the gathering organiser has the means or ability to ensure compliance with steps identified in the risk assessments.

It is one thing to simply say gatherings of 30+ are ok, another entirely when interpreting the legislation at source.

Paul Barford said...

But the metal detecting community contains a load of thickoes most of whom will not be reading any laws or guidelines because it's 'too many words'.

Hougenai said...

I jumped the gun in my earlier post before fully considering the circumstances. I assumed that the gathering organiser would cry 'Charity' by means of a donation in order to circumvent the regulation. However, the regulation specifies the provision of charity which a donation is not. I have since realised rallies do not qualify under any of the conditions Restrictions on gatherings regulation 5 paragraph 3(i)-(v) and if they go ahead, they are clearly liable for enforcement. If they claim it is somehow work related there'll be tax returns or similar as evidence of such. Educational? hardly. Provision of childcare? Emergency assistance? none of the above.
Detecting rallies are not a 'Reasonable Gathering' as defined by the regulations and should be limited to less than 30.
I'm not holding my breath hoping anyone able would take action even if they had considered the issue but according to my interpretation there is a clear contravention of the regulations .

Hougenai said...

I must apologise for nor making clear reference to the legislation concerned, but in defence a link to the relevant sections was included in the first post.
Indeed I'd also considered some rural police officer (Or a H&S turning up to enquire into risk assessments and mitigation procedures in place) but it is unlikely that they would be aware of the constraints.

Paul Barford said...

Note the NCMD posts the ENGLISH laws but in the case of Wales and Scotland just refers vaguely to "advice"...

I do wonder about the tax status of the people organising and benefiting from these events.

And yes, perhaps the 'rural crime' police might like to boost their statistics going to scheduled events and checking whether they are fully compliant with these laws.

Brian Mattick said...

There is no typical charity rally as the contribution to charity can vary from large to small to mysterious but a large majority of rallies are "charity rallies", as a way of persuading landowners to give permission.

(Why else would you want hundreds of people from all over, including all over Europe, to wander your fields on a third party's promise they'll all reveal and share what they find?)

I'd love to see HMIT crawling all over some of these events.

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