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PMR (private mobile radios)

Private Mobile Radios (PMR) are a useful event and activity communication tool in Scouting.

How can we get communications facilities?
There are three ways to go about it. Firstly there is a network of Scout Communication Teams who are able to manage the communications at events for you. Talk to your ACC Activities to see if your County or a District or Group within your County provides this service. The second is to buy your own set of radios. There are further details about this, including how to get a licence to use these radios, throughout this factsheet. The third method is to hire your kit from communication specialists. You can find details via recommendation or searching online.

How much does it cost?
A Communications Team (Regional, County or District) may have equipment valued at tens of thousands of pounds so that they are able to supply a wide range of facilities to the Movement. These teams in general are self-financing and ask for a donation towards the cost of maintenance and renewal. The cost of purchasing radio equipment, which conforms to the correct standards, is within the budgets of most Counties or Districts. The cost of a single hand portable or mobile radio set can be from about £150, but battery chargers, spare batteries and other accessories can add another 25% to this figure. In addition, there is an annual licence fee and a budget for maintenance should be provided to ensure that equipment does not fall into disrepair and become an expensive unused facility. If you wish to discuss the purchasing of radio equipment then please contact the UK Technical Adviser for PMR through the Activities Office at Gilwell Park who will be able to provide further advice.

Why radio use needs to be regulated?
Radio frequencies are in great demand, and uncoordinated use can cause interference to other users, both Scout and other organisations (we do not have exclusive use of the channels). Interference can have serious consequences for safety of life. Improper use may also interfere with the conduct of business or cause annoyance to the private individual. Because of this, it is illegal to use radio transmitters in the UK except under licence issued by Ofcom. Unauthorised use of equipment which requires a licence is illegal and could mean immediate termination of use, a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment on summary conviction. Or, for conviction on indictment, an unlimited fine, two years imprisonment and the forfeiture of the equipment.

If you get your own radios there are a number of licensing options depending on your requirements. The Scout Association holds a Simple UK Business Radio Licence from Ofcom, and the simplest way for members to license their radios is to apply to The Scout Association for a sub licence. To do this please complete the Word application form and return it to the Activities Office at Gilwell Park. Please note that these applications should be sent to The Scout Association, not Ofcom. These sub licences will be renewed every few years to coincide with the renewal of the overall licence with Ofcom. The Scout Association will contact all licence holders when these are due for renewal. The full terms can be found on the sub licence, but the main restrictions on a Simple UK licence are:

If your proposed usage of your radios does not fit within these restrictions there are other licences that you can apply for that will be more applicable. Please note that these applications should be made to Ofcom directly, not The Scout Association.

For using a mast or base station:
Suppliers Light Business Radio Licence

For using a mast, base station or repeater at a specific site (ie activity centre):
Technically Assigned Business Radio Licence

For use on vessels at sea:
Ship Radio Licence

Full details of each of these, including how to apply, can be found at licensing.ofcom.org.uk.


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Charity Numbers 306101 (England and Wales) and SC038437 (Scotland).
Registered address: The Scout Association, Gilwell Park, Chingford, London, England E4 7QW