Tuesday 5 May 2020

Responsible Detectorists, and the UK Lockdown Rebels

Recreation at Shoreham Fort
Another British lockdown rebel, thoughtlessly exercising his "right to exercise", was spotted by Mark Thompson at Shoreham Fort (umm, protected site). [the original post on Facebook with the documentation of the crime was swiftly removed when I posted this, the vignette here is a replacement]. 

This goes against National Council of Metal Detecting instructions to members:
In the light of the Government's latest instruction that people are only allowed to leave home for a few "very limited purposes" (shopping, exercise, helping others, work) the NCMD is now instructing all members to stop metal detecting WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT until further notice. This instruction applies whether you are proposing to detect individually or in a group.
Please be aware that farmers and other land owners have families and you could inadvertently infect them as well.
Please note this is in all line with government instructions where they have clarified exercise this morning as ONLY walking, running or cycling to and from your home.
I hope that I can rely on your understanding and support during this difficult period.
Clive Coleman NCMD Chairman
Perhaps the guy in the photo is a member instead of FID, who have issued no such instructions. Their members can be as irresponsible as they like. Apparently NCMD detectorists were not happy about the executive's decision (and the discussion below shows that they are not very good at understanding what the policy is in place for):
We have had a lot of enquires today asking for further information about our statement this morning. We thought long and hard about it before posting it. Many of us also have permissions nearby, but sadly not everyone can be trusted to be sensible. What starts off as a single detectorist in a field becomes a pair and before you know it there are groups. Therefore our instruction has to be black and white, there can be no grey areas. The Government has defined exercise as cycling, running and walking. All pursuits outside the home come with some risks and nobody, but nobody, is in a position to define safe metal detecting – neither the Government, the NCMD nor individual detectorists. As a result many hobby organisations, including angling for example, have made the same decision as we have and banned the activity. The Government has also now instructed golf clubs to close.

However safe you may feel going detecting on your own, consider these situations:
1. Your car might have an accident or breakdown requiring people to attend.
2. You may come across a dog walker who coughs all over you
3. A significant find may require Police/FLO/archaeologists attendance
4. You might touch a farmer’s fence or gate that is already contaminated with covid19.
The possibilities are endless.

The NCMD will not be softening its stance until the Government tells us that it is safe to do so. We hope you understand our position but if you choose to disregard this instruction, you are putting your own life and the lives of others at risk. You also risk providing the Government with increasing justification to introduce more severe restrictions, e.g., as currently in France where you require a permit to go anywhere.
Please think of the bigger picture.
Note that the four situations above concentrate on the health of the detectorist, totally ignoring that the detectorist might be the person spreading the virus.

Five days later, the NCMD principled standpoint weakens to "advice":
For now though, in line with Government policy, our advice to stay at home and not detect remains unchanged. We will of course update this advice, without delay, as soon as the Government tells us it is safe to do so.

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