UKH

Culpable and reckless conduct charge for rescues

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 Myr 30 Apr 2021

A few mountain rescues in Scotland during the pandemic have ended with a culpable and reckless conduct charge for the rescuees. Seemingly only a minority of rescues during the pandemic have resulted in this charge. From December to January, Police Scotland received 46 calls to search and rescue incidents and charged six people with culpable and reckless conduct (https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/crime/police-urge-caution-after-midlothian-men-charged-reckless-behaviour-during-hiking-trip-ben-more-3118039).

It's hard to know what triggers this charge in each situation, but it has generally seemed to involve breach of Covid travel restrictions. For example in February, two walkers were charged for a rescue on the Cobbler. https://www.helensburghadvertiser.co.uk/news/19104491.mountain-rescue-team-called-hillwalking-pair-broke-lockdown-rules/

"Police said that due to the MRT and officers being called to the scene and the danger the rescuers faced, coupled with the flagrant breach of Covid travel restrictions, both men were charged with culpable and reckless conduct and will be subject of a report to the procurator fiscal."

However, yesterday, two men received culpable and reckless conduct charges for having to be rescued from the Devil's Pulpit in West Stirlingshire (https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/men-charged-after-rescue-operation-24007141). Interestingly, this charge was served even though Covid travel restrictions no longer exist within mainland Scotland. Presumably therefore it was solely due to the risks that MR had to take during the rescue.

None of us set out into the mountains aiming to be rescued. I've managed to avoid ever having to be rescued, I like to think partly through prudence, but no doubt due to a bit of luck too. We expose mountain rescuers to danger every time they are called out, even in non-Covid times. So is a culpable and reckless conduct charge something that we should just get used to being an additional risk of a day in the hills?

 Basemetal 30 Apr 2021

The interesting bit is the view that their conduct endangered others, because others 'had to' rescue them.  

"Culpable and reckless" makes sense when heedless actions bring direct risk to others, like trundling boulders in a busy area or throwing things from bridges into roads. But when it comes to wearing the wrong shoes (inappropriate footwear) and putting yourself at risk -even risk you might not realise through inexperience or even stupidity  - it looks like a bit of a misapplication. One man's recklessness may be another's "considered risk", a la Alex Honnold. Would knowing the dangers defend you against the charge of recklessness? Is crossing a frozen loch an exposing you to this charge if you get it wrong but not if you get it right?

Since MRTs are volunteers, don't we decide to put ourselves at risk or not to engage in rescue? Aren't emergency services governed by their own application of the HSW Act? Lines have to be drawn in order to intervene but Culpable and Reckless Conduct (Scotland) seems to be a bit of a stretch to me here.

In reply to Myr:

Bit worrying, isn't it? It's hard to comment without the full details of the incident, but I don't think anyone should be charged with a criminal offence because they've made a poor decision or series of decisions in the outdoors. Unless, perhaps, their poor decision-making has put other members of the general public at significant risk. I can't think of a great example - something like deliberately trundling above a path?

I appreciate the job that MR do and don't want to sound like I'm taking a dig, but their role has clear and obvious risks. By volunteering, one is surely accepting those clear and obvious risks?

> So is a culpable and reckless conduct charge something that we should just get used to being an additional risk of a day in the hills?

No, we absolutely shouldn't.

Edit to add: if the risk is too great to effect a rescue, it's also surely the responsibility of the rescuers to draw the line and make that call? It happens all the time - airborne assets and poor weather is the obvious example. Others don't 'have to' rescue anyone - it's their choice to make.

Post edited at 12:00
 Lrunner 30 Apr 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

I think it sets a really dangerous precedent. Its an ancient charge in Scotland but is about doing something that you know would put someone at risk (throwing a rock off a bridge for example). Before covid it would have been unthinkable to have charged climbers/hill walkers with it.  Its also very hard to prove as you have to prove the person knew it was reckless and that it would cause risk to another person can't see how it could be done in these cases. 

I don't think these will get prosecuted because of the lack of public interest. There is a chance that once word gets out that you can get in trouble someone in need will not call for help and will die as a result.  I think the MCOS should speak to Police Scotland about this as it really worries me, p

It also sets a bad precedent for adventurous activities in general. 

People make poor choices and when they need a rescue they usually realise they have messed up massively and learn from it. How sending them to court will help is beyond me. 

In reply to Lrunner:

I wonder if this is a knee jerk to the endless "they should be charged for the rescue, fined, put in jail" facebook posts that pop up on FB.

There are some absolute muppets out there who deserve a really good bollocking from the MRT for stupidity, but how the hell do you prove 'recklessness'?

Is it 'failure to wear sturdy boots' (I once found a lost walker on a solo fell run and after putting him on a clear path down he then proceeded to lecture me about my footwear and attire..).

Sounds a right can of worms to open up.

 peppermill 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Myr:

Slightly worrying.

During the COVID restrictions I'd have just said "Fck em, the rules are unbelievably clear in Scotland" but there must be more to the story for charges to be brought in now.

I don't get the inappropriate footwear bit, how do you judge that? I despise wearing walking boots in anything other than winter conditions, especially given how good modern approach shoes and trainers are. Does this make me reckless?

 peppermill 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Ridge:

> Is it 'failure to wear sturdy boots' (I once found a lost walker on a solo fell run and after putting him on a clear path down he then proceeded to lecture me about my footwear and attire..).

> Sounds a right can of worms to open up.

Agreed. In anything other than winter I honestly think the "Must wear sturdy boots" jazz is about 20 years out of date.

 Grus 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Myr:

These are deeply troubling developments by an overbearing state.

I would very much like to hear the BMC/Mountaineering Scotland pronounce against these prosecutions. It may well be that, now the councils are part of the expanded state, they can no longer speak out against their paymasters?

I would also like to hear the mountain rescue teams involved speak directly against this kind of state overreach.

My understanding of my local team is that they simply would not stand to be implicated in this kind of state tyranny.

During the pandemic, several teams behaved as if they were an extension of the state, especially via their messages on social media, acting as if they were gatekeepers of the mountains on behalf of the government.

I have made a list of teams that behaved in this way and it will take many years of healthy messaging before those teams see any more donations from me. Some of those teams later moderated their posts, but their initial messaging gave an insight into their supercillious frame of mind. 

There is no right of rescue in the UK and nobody is duty bound to put themselves in danger to rescue those in distress. The age old moto still stands, 'the casualty dies first.'

Excepting helicopter operations, involvment with mountain rescue should subject team members to no more physical risk than they willingly chose to accept in their ordinary private mountain adventures. Any toleration of charges of reckless endangerment by MR teams is to utterly misrepresent both Mountain Rescue and mountaineering. Team members should not be surprised when such state overreach encroaches on their own right to take risks in their own private mountain adventures.

So, no, we should not expect to be prosecuted based on this illiberal interpretation of the law.
It is also goes quite against Lord Bingham's principals of the rule of law.

"Questions of legal right and liability should ordinarily be resolved by the exercise of the law and not the exercise of discretion."

If the law had been written with the intention to restrict our right to take risks it should have explicitely stated this and not require the interpretative discretion of the police or prosecutors.

In reply to Ridge:

> Is it 'failure to wear sturdy boots' (I once found a lost walker on a solo fell run and after putting him on a clear path down he then proceeded to lecture me about my footwear and attire..).

There is a tale, possibly apocryphal, of (I think) Doug Scott and a visiting Sherpa friend, who had summited Everest multiple times, being ticked off by a Lake District Ranger for inappropriate footwear.

In reply to Myr:

It will be interesting to see the outcome.  One blog, by an advocate, says

"the conduct has to be reckless. This means acting with a complete disregard of (or indifference to) the consequences of his/her actions.  You cannot commit this crime accidentally or carelessly."

It is one thing chucking traffic cones off a bridge without thought for anyone who might be underneath.  It seems quite a stretch to say that going out for a walk shows complete disregard for the safety of others, even if it does end up with MRT being called out.

In reply to Myr:

Is this still potentially COVID related?  Yes, restrictions have been relaxed, but COVID still is very much a threat, and effecting a rescue from 2m away is not possible.  Therefore, restrictions or no, you're still putting the MRT at risk of catching COVID, which is a risk in excess of what they would normally bear.

Post edited at 13:55
 Myr 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Neil Williams:

> a risk in excess of what they would normally bear.

Fingers crossed that this is the issue here, rather than that the total risk incurred by MR during the rescue was too high.

I wouldn't guess that the total risk incurred by an MRT carrying out a gorge rescue in lowland Stirlingshire in Covid times would be greater than that incurred by an MRT carrying out a rescue on Beinn a'Bhuird in midwinter in non-Covid times.

A very complicated area. I wouldn't like to see anyone have to take massive risks in my name for something as trivial as my outdoor recreation, and I can't think of a good argument why non-Covid-related risks to health/life are any more acceptable than Covid-related risks.

 Pedro50 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Howard J:

> There is a tale, possibly apocryphal, of (I think) Doug Scott and a visiting Sherpa friend, who had summited Everest multiple times, being ticked off by a Lake District Ranger for inappropriate footwear.

It's true Doug told me. The Sherpa apologised, removed his trainers and proceeded onwards barefoot.

 GrahamD 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Howard J:

This happened at the height of lockdown with abundant messaging about staying at home and not mixing (car share).  So it's nowhere near the same as judgement on footwear.

 mgce25c 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Myr:

I am a member of an English mountain rescue team, so it's important to note that I don't know if my insight applies to the Scottish teams involved as they can be a mixture of volunteers and specialist police teams.

In Britain, Mountain Rescue falls under the jurisdiction of the Police. This means that all rescues take place under Police permission. Whilst the local Mountain Rescue team maybe the subject experts, ultimately they answer to the Police. 

In England and Wales (and maybe Scotland?) any prosecutions would have come from a Police decision. Aka, most MR callouts are instigated by the Police, who because of the Covid restrictions have monitored the log as the callout progresses. Then the Police on monitoring the log for the callout, have taken the decision to prosecute. This has usually ended up with the local bobby turning up to the road head to have a 'stern word.'  

What's key here is that the local MR team is not the organisation applying the prosecution, as it appears in the press. It is important to note that during lockdowns there were occasions where MR teams requested the presence of Police at the road. This was where casualties had blatantly obviously flouted the law, I'm not saying that this was the right/wrong thing to do.

I can't agree more with Grus.
I think that particularly at the start of the Pandemic, many MR teams/organisations over stepped. Self appointing themselves as some sort of gatekeeper and regulator of the mountains. I also think that other well meaning teams got their messaging very wrong, where whilst they had concerns for their members, they failed to express this fully and ended up alienating their supporters. The only consolation to this is that the standard 'on the ground' MR team member did not support much of this messaging.  

Also agree that the culpable and reckless conduct charge is setting a dangerous precedent 

Post edited at 14:46
 Denning76 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Myr:

I think it's notable that most calls for such charges seem to come from outside of the mountain rescue community. Spoke to a mate who's in the local MRT after the incident in the Lake District. His view was that threats of financial charges, let alone criminal charges, provides a disincentive to call for rescue when people need it. He'd rather be called out to rescue someone at a known location because they phoned up, than go on a manhunt for a corpse.

 Grus 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Myr:

> I wouldn't guess that the total risk incurred by an MRT carrying out a gorge rescue in lowland Stirlingshire in Covid times would be greater than that incurred by an MRT carrying out a rescue on Beinn a'Bhuird in midwinter in non-Covid times.

> A very complicated area. I wouldn't like to see anyone have to take massive risks in my name for something as trivial as my outdoor recreation, and I can't think of a good argument why non-Covid-related risks to health/life are any more acceptable than Covid-related risks.

It would be grotesquely absurd if this prosecution has anything to do with covid.

The risks of transmission outdoors have been known for a long time to be absolutely insignificant. This has often been stated by various NERVTAG and SAGE members, not that our government takes any notice of scientific advice, nor of the scientific papers behind that advice. 

If the confines of the gorge, or the proximity necessitated by high angle rope work were considered a concern, then a compact P3 respirator (with appropriate hygiene) is an option to fully protect the rescuers.  I have previously been involved in rope work and rescue and, separately, have regularly worn a P3 mask, with a helmet, exerting myself in confined spaces.  I would have no problem combining the two to protect myself and still work effectively.

However, yesterday the risk of a non-vaccinated person in the UK catching the virus was put at 1 in 45000, e.g. a vanishingly small chance.

I would have no problem with that level of risk if I were involved in that rescue. I would go so far as to say that anyone who does have a problem has no understanding of risk and should ask themselves some serious questions about their place on a rescue team.

If a prosecution has been pursued on the basis of the concerns of team members then we are in a much worse place than I thought with regard to our teams.

It is time for our rescue teams to speak up against these actions lest ordinary folks presume them to be part of the state and not in need of charitable donations.

 Grus 30 Apr 2021
In reply to mgce25c:

> I am a member of an English mountain rescue team,

> I can't agree more with Grus.

> I think that particularly at the start of the Pandemic, many MR teams/organisations over stepped. Self appointing themselves as some sort of gatekeeper and regulator of the mountains. I also think that other well meaning teams got their messaging very wrong, where whilst they had concerns for their members, they failed to express this fully and ended up alienating their supporters. The only consolation to this is that the standard 'on the ground' MR team member did not support much of this messaging.  

> Also agree that the culpable and reckless conduct charge is setting a dangerous precedent 


I'm very glad to hear confirmed that the 'on the ground' MR team members hold a different view to some of the social mediapress officers.  I have to say, that in my day, any press officer posting the misrepresentative state boot licking nonesense such as the social media messages from some teams  early in the  pandemic, would have rapidly been subject to the FIFO principal.  It was considered extremely important to ensure that the public perceived the team as being seperate from any other organisation.  Not least to keep the charitable donations rolling, but also to support the ethic that we were all in it for, namely to take responsibility for the rescue of fellow adventurers in distress.  

In regard to being under the jurisdiction of the police, I can well remember several incidents where the police were told to stuff off when the team roundly disagreed with the police' policy and tactics.
 

 mgce25c 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Grus:

When were you in Mountain Rescue Grus? I miss the good old days (pre covid!)

There is still an undercurrent of team members overruling a misrepresentative statement etc. 
Having said this it has been extremely difficult to do this over the past year in a community that are famously technophobes and would prefer to just go for a walk. As with other areas of life, decisions on Covid had to be made very quickly, without waiting for the conscious of the team via email or other. Not all of these were decisions were correct.

It is only just starting to feel like the general team members have control again with the recent loosening of restriction letting teams meet up again. 

> In regard to being under the jurisdiction of the police, I can well remember several incidents where the police were told to stuff off when the team roundly disagreed with the police' policy and tactics.

Yup, this certainly still happens... although we'll deny it if you ask us officially  
Again not always possible with Covid where some casualties had broken the law, very hard to argue against... although that didn't stop us trying sometimes...

 AukWalk 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Myr:

Hopefully more details will emerge that explain the decision to charge the men, but if it is just a case of them doing something silly and getting into a pickle while wearing inappropriate footwear that is quite worrying... 

Must have been quite some pickle for a 22 person rescue team plus police, plus fire service, plus ambulance to be dispatched though!

Going by the comments left in some facebook groups or on news stories in the past few years it seems quite a few people will be happy about this whatever the reason, as they seem to want everyone who ever gets rescued to be fined and locked up in prison.

I enjoyed this quote: "David Dodson of Lomond MRT said: “I’d advise anyone visiting the Devil’s Pulpit to use their common sense. “Don’t go anywhere that you get into difficulty and make sure you are prepared for the conditions.”"  If only it were so simple to not go somewhere after you'd already got into difficulty :p (yes, yes, I get the meaning... I think).

 Grus 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Is this still potentially COVID related?  Yes, restrictions have been relaxed, but COVID still is very much a threat, and effecting a rescue from 2m away is not possible.  Therefore, restrictions or no, you're still putting the MRT at risk of catching COVID, which is a risk in excess of what they would normally bear.

Notwithstanding my comment about the now reported lower than 1 in 45000 chance of transmission;

The same threat you speak of is, in the real world,  "normally" withstood by every employee at every building site or crowded workplace. 2 meters just is not possible or practical in many many locations that fall under the remit of the HSE. Not least of these is hospitals and government buildings. Very few (none last time I searched) prosecutions have been pursued because of these breaches of regulations. Furthermore,  I have visited several police stations, including at the height of the pandemic, no social distancing, no masks and not a drop of hand wash to be seen anywhere.

Perhaps I should take out a private prosecution against the police for reckless endangerment in the arguably infinitely far more transmission friendly indoor environment?

 Grus 30 Apr 2021
In reply to mgce25c:

> When were you in Mountain Rescue Grus? I miss the good old days (pre covid!)

Getting on for 15 years ago.

> Yup, this certainly still happens... although we'll deny it if you ask us officially  

Good to hear, I try not to think about it as several of these incidents were utterly tragic.

> Again not always possible with Covid where some casualties had broken the law, very hard to argue against... although that didn't stop us trying sometimes...

Would you mind elaborating which law had been broken, keeping in mind that one only required a 'reasonable excuse' to be away from home.  Reasonable is a very low bar, and must be interpreted objectively.

 mgce25c 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Grus:

And this is my case in point. It is not up to me as a volunteer, or any MR team, to have to judge whether someone has broken the law.

That is the Polices' job.

We'll rescue you regardless.

Post edited at 16:05
 Grus 30 Apr 2021
In reply to mgce25c:

> And this is my case in point. It is not up to me as a volunteer, or any MR team, to have to judge whether someone has broken the law.


I agree. But some teams were disgracefully gleeful at pointing out that fines had been issued. Often these fines had been issued where clearly no law had been broken. ( 5 minute job to read and understand the law)   Punishment without law is a characteristic of state tyranny. This tyranny was encouraged by some Mountain Rescue teams. I have seen some of these pronouncements retracted, perhaps due to people like me writing to chastise the teams,  but I have yet to see any apology.

I see this as part of the government policy of fear and it is quite incomprehensible that some team members conspired with the government in this way against fellow mountaineers.

I'm sure when the coffers run low teams will be wailing that they are not part of government and begging for funds.

These teams(not all) cannot have it both ways. 

Apologies should be forthcoming if faith is to be restored.

 mgce25c 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Grus:

I'm not here for an argument. 

I have admitted that MR teams have made mistakes but also think I have done a reasonable job at explaining why these mistakes have taken place. Equally, I am not here to answer for a national organisations' actions. 

I am an on the ground MR team member and will continue to share my opinions within the privacy of my team. I am proud of what we do 

 Grus 30 Apr 2021
In reply to mgce25c:

Understood and thank you for your up to date insight. I'm glad to hear there are other perspectives active within modern teams. Proud of you too, thank you for all your efforts.

In reply to Grus:

> Punishment without law is a characteristic of state tyranny. 

Sometimes.  But this is the UK, it was more characteristic of state cock-up.  Were any of these fines upheld?

> I see this as part of the government policy of fear

I take it you don't think there was anything to be afraid of?  If I had been in an MRT I think I would have been very worried that I might pick up Covid on a shout, whether from the casualty or fellow team members, especially in the early days when the risks from different vectors of transmission were less well understood.  I think I might have been pretty pissed off by the numbers who ignored clear guidance and who decided their hobby was more important than the safety of others.

I think they were quite right to criticise people for going to the hills against the guidance, and in some cases against the law.  Some MRTs may have gone a bit over the top, but I for one have no problem with it.

 Grus 30 Apr 2021
In reply to Howard J:

> Sometimes.  But this is the UK, it was more characteristic of state cock-up.  Were any of these fines upheld?

I disagree on the state cock-up. My view is that Johnson's government actions and legal drafting were quiet deliberate and unlawful. Bigger subject and off topic so I'll stop there.
Yes, many unlawfully issued fines have been paid. One cannot expect justice through the lower courts in the UK, given the mess they are in. If one were to contest a fine there was the risk of a criminal record and even greater fees to clear one's name at a higher court. Parliamentary committees have reported this disproportionality at every sitting as well as recognising that at least 25% of FPNs were unlawfully issued.

> I take it you don't think there was anything to be afraid of? 

Not at all. I have a rational measure of the risks of the virus. I have taken greater precautions against catching and spreading the virus than anyone else I know, including many health care workers in my social circle. I am not afraid of the virus on my own account, as the risk to me is very low. I have taken these precautions on the basis of my sense of responsibility for not spreading the virus, due to the risk of overwhelming the health services. Also, I have not broken the law. By comparison,  I don't know of any other person who has not broken the various covid laws. Especially lately, there has been widespread ignoring of the law.

I am aware that the lockdown restrictions and irrational fear will have cause a huge amount of suffering and loss. I am wary of the future consequences of that. 

I am very wary of the overreach of government.

> I think they were quite right to criticise people for going to the hills against the guidance, and in some cases against the law.  Some MRTs may have gone a bit over the top, but I for one have no problem with it.

I see your point of view, and I am very glad that the teams are there for us, so am more than willing to cut my former compatriots some slack and also realise that press statements are often only the view of one member. However, I'd rather they behaved in a more proportionate way, especially when, as seems likely, we are back in the same predicament next winter.
 

 kinley2 03 May 2021
In reply to Myr:

As far as I'm aware, none of these charges and reports sent to the PF have moved through to prosecution and/or conviction yet. Neither has the similar charge for travelling London-Glasgow on a commuter train while knowingly + for Covid.

The Scottish and UK systems are so opaque that it's extremely difficult to ever find out what is actually happening.

Presumably successful prosecution would require witness statements from MR acknowledging significant risk, or from Public Health indicating that MR PPE measures are wholly ineffective.

I'll be surprised if any of the charges carry through to prosecution personally. Not sure if Police Scotland favour sending messages to encourage the others or whether officers on the scene think they're Judge Dredd, but on the limited information available it all seems like Police/State overreach.

 Dave Hewitt 03 May 2021
In reply to kinley2:

> I'll be surprised if any of the charges carry through to prosecution personally. Not sure if Police Scotland favour sending messages to encourage the others or whether officers on the scene think they're Judge Dredd, but on the limited information available it all seems like Police/State overreach.

A couple of the main Scottish incidents have been within the Stirling police area, and there have been other less publicised (or entirely non-publicised) incidents within the same area over the past year, involving people going about legal activities being turned back or hassled in the process (eg a young couple with a child heading off locally for a walk at a time when this was legal, and an elderly lady being followed and spoken to while trying to collect a prescription from her local chemist). Police Scotland is theoretically centralised these days - and heaven knows the current Scottish government is keen on centralising and control - but it does appear that various local police areas (eg Stirling) have been able to take a stricter line on this kind of stuff.

My better half wrote to the local MSP following the Crianlarich incident and got a reply (from an underling, not from the MSP) basically saying that it was nothing to do with them.

 deepsoup 03 May 2021
In reply to Myr:

I don't think he lives in Scotland, or perhaps Ade Edmondson would be facing similar charges after 'culpably and recklessly' needing a rescue while he was cleaning his windows yesterday..
https://twitter.com/AdrianEdmondson/status/1388822267925254144

 wercat 03 May 2021
In reply to deepsoup:

woe betide kittens and cats climbing trees in Scotland, or anyone unofficial who tries to rescue them

 Cobra_Head 03 May 2021
In reply to Myr:

>  We expose mountain rescuers to danger every time they are called out, even in non-Covid times. So is a culpable and reckless conduct charge something that we should just get used to being an additional risk of a day in the hills?

No one was supposed to be out during the lock down, so why are you trying, or simply, making a link between the two?

FFS! this was covered ad naus. when they happened. By simply leaving the house these people were being reckless.

 kinley2 03 May 2021
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

It will be interesting to see how these charges pan out (assuming we ever find out if the PF just bins the reports as unviable for prosecution).

There are already noises from Westminster Committees about “muddled, discriminatory and unfair” Covid fines, once the perceived need to extract obedience from the populus wanes, I'd bet on a lot of this being quietly ditched.

 deepsoup 03 May 2021
In reply to Cobra_Head:

> By simply leaving the house these people were being reckless.

Did you read the OP properly?  It was prompted by this: https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/men-charged-after-rescue-operation-24007141

There's no suggestion at all that either of the men was breaking any Covid regulations there, no mention of the pandemic at all in fact.  It does refer to them pejoratively as the "ill-prepared duo" though and criticises their choice of shoes specifically.

In reply to Cobra_Head:

If leaving the house post-lockdown, within the 'rules', is considered reckless, then society is 'cked.

Of course, it seems more likely that you just haven't actually read the article in question...

 Dave Hewitt 03 May 2021
In reply to kinley2:

> It will be interesting to see how these charges pan out (assuming we ever find out if the PF just bins the reports as unviable for prosecution).

> There are already noises from Westminster Committees about “muddled, discriminatory and unfair” Covid fines, once the perceived need to extract obedience from the populus wanes, I'd bet on a lot of this being quietly ditched.

Most people with whom I've discussed this think that the charges will be quietly binned by the PF, and to me that seems most likely too, but it remains to be seen and it might be hard to find out. The more low-level incidents - without any actual charge - are worrying, though. Generally the polis round here are pretty good and sensible in my experience, but they do seem to have been overexerting their power a bit in some ways over the past while, and I know various law-abiding and non-stroppy Stirling residents who have expressed concern about this.

For all that the main media focus has been on Derbyshire police, the attitude of their Stirling colleagues is worth keeping an eye on too. I'm originally from Derbyshire and now live in Stirling, so I've found the whole thing quite interesting as I know the general geographical layout in both places. Whatever the situation, it doesn't help that the elected representatives (round here at least) appear to be avoiding having anything to do with it.

 kinley2 03 May 2021
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

> Whatever the situation, it doesn't help that the elected representatives (round here at least) appear to be avoiding having anything to do with it.

I think the Playbook for this scenario sees elected representatives become exponentially more interested in criticising the decisions of Police/Health/Social Work/Council in the aftermath of the crisis. At that point it's very important to spread  any ire!

Write back to them in about a year.

 Dave Hewitt 03 May 2021
In reply to kinley2:

> Write back to them in about a year.

Or alternatively this past wee while might have been the time, with an election pending. The trouble here however is that the MSP, who seems generally well regarded and diligent, is retiring and might well have been in not-bothered mode of late. There's no point at all trying the MP, who was parachuted in with little apparent interest in or knowledge of local matters, and is regarded by a lot of the locals, including plenty in his own party, as being of less use than the proverbial chocolate teapot. So we're a bit stuck for representation until we get a shiny new MSP in a few days' time.

 rogerwebb 03 May 2021
In reply to Grus:

> It would be grotesquely absurd if this prosecution has anything to do with covid.

> The risks of transmission outdoors have been known for a long time to be absolutely insignificant. This has often been stated by various NERVTAG and SAGE members, not that our government takes any notice of scientific advice, nor of the scientific papers behind that advice. 

That is true but, as you will be aware, a considerable part of rescue can be indoors outdoors. As soon as you get into a bothy bag, you are indoors, if you are applying any kind of medical treatment you are upclose, briefing may may by necessity involve close contact. Helping someone across a river or otherwise assisting them to walk involves close contact. That combined with, in the Highlands at least, a real risk of cross community infection caused by team members from different areas was a main driver of MRT caution during the earlier stages of the pandemic.

Having said that I doubt that the charge in this case has anything to do with covid or mrt. 

Culpable and Reckless conduct is not an uncommon charge and normally involves a flagrant disregard for the consequences of one's actions and that those consequences were clearly forseeable. 

Either these charges are for the bin when the PF sees them or there is an extra element to the behaviour of those involved that we don't know about.

Post edited at 16:21
 ScraggyGoat 03 May 2021
In reply to Howard J:

Outdoor transmission was known from the very start to be very very low, and certainly by the end of last summer we had lots of evidence to that effect.

The whole logic of COVID restrictions have been topsy  turvy,  outside was safer than inside, and the more space the better.  Cardiovascular fitness was/is a strong predictor of outcome, but one simple means to stay in shape (with other benefits) for a large part of the population was denied them. the regulations promoted staying indoors, and confining people to in some places packed urban recreational areas. Completely upside down logic..... 

 Yet despite those basic premises it’s amazing that here we are as mountaineers arguing that people shouldn’t have been up the hill.....more independent critical thought required!

The only surprise we have learnt is that amongst what we thought as like minded altruistic hill goers, whom volunteer for MRT are a streak of publicly  xenophobic stay away merchants whom as others have pointed out have done casualties of the future no favours by potentially making people think twice about donating.

MRTs should have operationally stood down. Police Scotland could then have via Miltary aid for the civil community requested MOD support, we could then have got military personnel living in isolated bubbles round Scotland to effect rescues, with local Teams providing the search plans and local knowledge without leaving home.  

The MOD is there for times of crisis and to protect our liberty, what simpler expression of liberty is there than going for a walk?
 

On the proviso that you could travel without interaction, the health and well being of vast numbers of Scots would have been improved, and we wouldn’t be facing a tidal wave of people all exodusing the central belt at once, and the risk of transmission within or to teams and onwards into the community would have been removed.

But that would have been politically unacceptable!

Post edited at 16:37
 wbo2 03 May 2021
In reply to Myr: I recall that after a recent incident where a mountain rescue volunteer received extremely serious injuries many on here were crying for the book to be thrown at the people needing rescue.  

Be careful what you wish for....

 Cobra_Head 04 May 2021
In reply to deepsoup:

> Did you read the OP properly?

Who's got time for that?

In reply to ScraggyGoat:

I don't disagree with your analysis of the regulations, but I'm not sure that replacing MR with the military would be sensible. For one, I imagine there are few in the military with the skills and currency to effect a safe rescue from steep ground. That doesn't just apply to climbing rescues, but to walkers who have walked themselves into a predicament and become cragfast, or who have become lost and fallen down steep ground.

Unless there were many such teams, based regionally, I also imagine that rescue times would be increased significantly. And I doubt the experienced manpower would be available for that.

But I don't have data or knowledge to back that up either way.

 ScraggyGoat 04 May 2021
In reply to tehmarks:

If we were to allow people travel without interaction due to the limit risk and multitude of health benefits, including COVID resilience there were only two solutions to the question of emergency response once the civilian teams indicated their reticence.

a) No response - I would have been happy with that. But probably would have been unacceptable.

b) Provide Alternative, of which the only option would be MOD, having RAF teams already and for example the RM artic warfare wing; whom I’m sure would have been motivated for a year helping the public and getting out on the hills.

If we wanted to find a work around it could have been done, however it appears some Teams didn’t want there to be an alternative, Mountaineering Scotland betrayed their membership and wasn’t willing to represent us, and the politicians didn’t want to risk the unscientific rural xenophobic backlash (and in some cases pandered too it).  The end result was that in a country with the significant advantage of lots of space, we devised and complied with rules that confined people and made COVID spread more likely, resulted in poorer population wide cardiovascular fitness and made psychological problems more likely.

I make no criticism of the civilian teams or individuals whom no longer wanted to volunteer in the changed circumstances, however they should have made no further comment from that point.

In reply to ScraggyGoat:

> Mountaineering Scotland betrayed their membership and wasn’t willing to represent us

Weren't willing to represent you, perhaps?  What makes you think your views are shared by the majority of other climbers?  My impression is that considerable numbers chose to follow the official guidance even where this wasn't reinforced by legal travel restrictions.  The mountaineering organisations have given extensive advice to their memberships on how they can pursue climbing and walking safely and within the law and official guidance. Do you think they should have told us to ignore everything and behave as we pleased?  However if you are right the membership will be able to say something about it at the next AGM.

We know that Covid is spread by transmission between people. The guidance from all the governments was intended to minimise contact with others, and where that was unavoidable to stay local to try to contain any outbreaks within communities and not to spread them further afield.  It can certainly be argued that going to the hills presents less of a risk than exercising in a busy town, and on the individual level that can be justified.  It is harder to justify when thousands of those individuals from far and wide arrive in isolated communities.  It breaks down completely when something goes wrong and a rescue is needed, when close contact with others become unavoidable.

Yes, we have lots of space but most of it is remote from where most people live, and gaining access to it risks bringing people together from different communities and spreading the virus.  That can be mitigated if you take care to avoid all contact with others, but the reality was that people were congregating at the popular honeypots.

I find it unsurprising that MRTs should wish to protect the communities they live in, themselves and their families, and their local NHS by reminding people of the restrictions and asking them to take fewer risks than usual.  Like the governments' guidance, this was only advice and people were free to follow it or ignore it as they chose, so why do you find that so objectionable?

 ScraggyGoat 04 May 2021
In reply to Howard J:

You have deliberately chosen to ignore the science which shows that all through last summers tourist influx to the Highlands there was no significant transmission episodes to local populations,  further ignore the science that outside contagion is very low, have twisted my suggestion to suit a skewed simplistic view point that travel=interaction; at no point did I advocate direct interaction between communities, and ignore the solutions proposed to rescues. 

 IainL 04 May 2021
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

‘No Response’  worked in the California Sierras years ago. The local sheriff dept coordinates all mountain rescues. One year they had no budget, so posted all trailheads with the notice that there would be no rescues for any emergency. The number of outdoor users dropped immediately to 30% of normal and there were no reported incidents. Only the self reliant kept going. If you did the same here the number of people going to the hills would be very small as the majority expect a safety cushion from the MRT who are thought to be funded like Police and Coastguard.

 NathanP 04 May 2021
In reply to IainL:

> ‘No Response’  worked in the California Sierras years ago. The local sheriff dept coordinates all mountain rescues. One year they had no budget, so posted all trailheads with the notice that there would be no rescues for any emergency. The number of outdoor users dropped immediately to 30% of normal and there were no reported incidents. Only the self reliant kept going. If you did the same here the number of people going to the hills would be very small as the majority expect a safety cushion from the MRT who are thought to be funded like Police and Coastguard.

What a great idea. Maybe we could extend it to other areas too.

Without the cushion of the RNLI, sailors might be a bit more careful. Who needs lifeguards at swimming pools and beaches - if you can't swim well enough, don't go in the water. No more ambulance cover for RTAs and driving standards would dramatically improve. Scrap all those defibrillators and people might watch their diet and drinking a bit more...

I guess we'd have to do something to restrain do-gooder bystanders from wanting to help their fellow humans in need and thus not only put themselves at risk by not having the correct equipment or training but also undermine this whole noble cause. Perhaps anybody who did try to help could be charged with culpable and reckless conduct.

In reply to ScraggyGoat:

That knowledge is with the benefit of hindsight.  There was real and justified concern that an influx of visitors would present a risk, and that outdoor transmission was also a risk.  Furhtermore, the factors which limit the risk outdoors may mot apply in a rescue situation where close proximity is unavoidable.

Your own travel may not have involved interaction, but the papers were full of examples where that was happening, and those were the source of many of the concerns.

Your rescue solution had already been addressed by another post.  I have the greatest respect for our military, but I do not see how they could be expected to provide rescue cover when many have no experience of mountaineering, no training in rescue and no knowledge of the local terrain.

You seem to believe that Mountaineering Scotland and the MRTs have failed to represent the climbing community.  What message do you think the mountaineering organisations should have been sending out?

 ScraggyGoat 04 May 2021
In reply to Howard J:

Benefit of hindsight, I think not: just a few links below, there are numerous papers out there and several were reported in the wider press.  Your supposed justified concern was just scientific illiteracy and xenophobia, to which some politicians shamefully played.

the Chinese had not only suspected but scientifically investigated and got to the pre-print stage by early April 2020 that it was unlikely to be transmitted outside:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.04.20053058v1.article-info 2

Literature review conducted in October2020

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-coronavirus-rare-impossible.amp

Concluded that outside transmission was very rare, albeit not impossible:

Another study in April 2020 quantified the difference between indoors and outdoors 

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.28.20029272v2

‘The odds that a primary case transmitted COVID-19 in a closed environment was 18.7 times greater compared to an open-air environment (95% confidence interval ‘

The scientific evidence and research published early in the pandemic and readily accessible (and since added to), lead credence to supporting a differing approach between inside and outside interactions, and between travel with and travel without interaction.

Mountaineering Scotland should have been shouting out and highlighting.  The government banned travel as a proxy to control interaction, travel without interaction for outside activity was not a risk.  Once you factor in the cardiovascular health benefits and resilience of fitness, the mental health benefits ect the approach did not stack up.

We have been here before with Foot and Mouth when the post event review concluded that banning folks from going into the countryside was unwarranted. It is likely IMO that the post Covid review will return the same conclusion.

You’d be very brave to tell the RAF teams and the lads at Montrose that they weren’t capable, or able to collectively become capable very quickly. And I addressed the local knowledge issue.

The challenge of Covid in Scotland is not outside, but inside interactions, one of multi occupancy and multi generational living, of high density living, of infection control in health and social care settings, of socio economic inequality and associated underlying poor health. We knew all this at the start, just as we knew that a respiratory illness was going to be mainly a indoors protracted close proximity transmission pathway. If most people had spent as much time as possible outside and in multi occupancy housing slept with their windows open we would have had a much lower rate.  Fresh air and space was/is liquid gold. 

We had the knowledge, and capacity to maintain outdoor access if we wanted, we knew the cardiovascular and mental health benefits to doing so, we knew confining people together was counter productive, and our representative organisations said diddly squat.

Post edited at 22:42
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

Again missing the point.

Travel restrictions where in part to protect NHS, Fire etc resources. 

Doesn't matter about transmission on the fells...... Its about reducing RTCs etc.

Nationally, RTCs fell dramatically = less close contact etc.

In N Yorkshire one entire fire station watch had to be taken out of action for 2 weeks following crew catching C19 from an incident - - think.... A mid size town with effectively no near fire cover

Post edited at 09:40
 ScraggyGoat 10:53 Wed
In reply to EdS:

I should have made clear that my gripe is mainly with the second lockdown, once everyone was aware that outside was not the issue, even if they had been blinkered to it the first time.

You are ignoring that in second lockdown travel wasn’t precluded; if I lived in Highland, Aberdeenshire, A&B & P&K I could have legally travelled vast distances to go for a walk.  Yet in a geographically small LA with an infection rate less than Highland for many weeks and a rate lower than the proposed magic number of 50 per 100k for the majority of the second lockdown was not.  The residents had to wait untill Glasgow hundreds of miles away was low (but at the time still above 50) before having the same liberties as our neighbours, whom had been on the hill for weeks. To do something that all along was known to be low risk and from a health perspective positive. Even then I’m not so much as a me, me, toddler to say I should have been allowed out and others not. Travel without interaction was not a significant risk. The risk-benefit equation was clearly skewed wrongly.
If I lived in the last two houses on my street I would have had access to 1000sqkms.

Which ever way you look at it the system through up loads of arbitrary contradictions and overall was scientifically highly dubious, and was in Scotland ultimately a postcode lottery.

 GrahamD 13:50 Wed
In reply to Howard J:

> That knowledge is with the benefit of hindsight.  There was real and justified concern that an influx of visitors would present a risk, and that outdoor transmission was also a risk.  Furhtermore, the factors which limit the risk outdoors may mot apply in a rescue situation where close proximity is unavoidable.

It isn't just with the benefit of hindsight, either.  Its because the majority of people did follow guidelines so the number of interactions caused by the selfish few was bound to be low.

 peppermill 17:39 Wed
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

Meh. 

The hills were out of bounds for few weeks to minimise travel around the country, we had to amuse ourselves locally for a bit, never mind.

It sucked but it passed and now we can head out again. Not sure what MCofS were supposed to have done.

Post edited at 17:40
In reply to Myr:

'Inadequate footwear' - blimey. I'd have thought flipflops were perfectly adequate footwear for this particular piece of mountaineering, unless I've mistaken the venue.

jcm

 gravy 21:06 Wed
In reply to Myr:

"So is a culpable and reckless conduct charge something that we should just get used to being an additional risk of a day in the hills?"

Absolutely not.  Idiots abound and will always need rescuing.  Personally I'd prefer they were rescued as alive idiots rather than dead ones.  Placing any doubt in the mind of someone already up to their necks in it tilts the balance in favour of dead idiots.

Ideally we'd do something to elevate the status of idiots towards being sensible or to educate idiots into not over reaching themselves but making people scared to ask for help is a bad idea.

 colinakmc 09:15 Thu
In reply to Myr:

I was very concerned when this materialised a year ago in case it became another part of the covert drive to reduce land access (see innumerable posts on Nick Kemp’s Parkswatch blog)

This reinforces my fears. The police must be getting positive feedback from the Procurator Fiscal’s office and presumably from politicians and other interests for this wacky practice to be gaining traction.

I intend to contact my MSP about it and I very much hope that Mountaineering Scotland, Ramblers Association et al will be taking the matter up in an organised way.

 mondite 09:23 Thu
In reply to gravy:

> Ideally we'd do something to elevate the status of idiots towards being sensible or to educate idiots into not over reaching themselves but making people scared to ask for help is a bad idea.

Maybe have a "walkers awareness" course copying speed awareness. Low(ish) cost and some time out of their day?

In reply to peppermill:

As regards inappropriate footwear, daughter and I went up Scafell Pike yesterday. There were dozens making their way up the final slog of the corridor route, I counted 7 in trainers and cotton jogging pants, three in jeans two wearing shorts and one lady incredibly wearing a pair of Teva sandals, no socks and jeans. The snow off the path was about 20cm deep, the path was compacted and slippery, I was wearing my Katahoolas and this lady was in sandals! I suppose though if there had been a mishap there were plenty of people to help out. 

 ScraggyGoat 10:58 Thu
In reply to colinakmc:

I think ‘hope’ us all you have.  Mountaineering Scotland gets a significant portion of its funding from the Scot Gov, and as we have learned will do it’s pay master bidding if push comes to shove.

Also other outdoor bodies have lots of personal competency awards, mandatory pre-course training, coaching schemes, and assessments, all providing a nice additional revenue stream for them.  How long before MS looks sideways fancies a slice of that.....could be a perfect storm. 

The PF office is famed for moving at sub-glacial speed, and does not like giving feed back to anyone. So I don’t think they have had any influence.

More likely there was a general briefing to Officers on the ground that this charge was available to them, and consequently as they are more aware of it they are using it.

unless we get a very hung parliament writing to your msp just after they have a been given a four year position is the weakest possible timing to do so, and will do bugger all.

The precedence has been set, whether it takes root depends on how many cases the PF drops and how many get thrown out of court setting case law.

If it doesn’t it provides a huge lever for the outdoor training industry of which MS often acts as the business development arm to push for personal competency training and assessment.

Post edited at 10:59
 Myr 12:48 Thu
In reply to gravy:

> "So is a culpable and reckless conduct charge something that we should just get used to being an additional risk of a day in the hills?"

> Absolutely not.  Idiots abound and will always need rescuing.  Personally I'd prefer they were rescued as alive idiots rather than dead ones.  Placing any doubt in the mind of someone already up to their necks in it tilts the balance in favour of dead idiots.

I think this - putting people off calling for help - is one possible side-effect of the trend for more routine charging for rescues. Another sadder one is that it might put people off going to the hills. Only a few low-probability events need to occur (twisting an ankle in a place where mountain rescuers might be at risk of the same; the police serving a culpable and reckless conduct charge; the PF not dropping it) for a day out in the hills to lead to a criminal record.

> Ideally we'd do something to elevate the status of idiots towards being sensible or to educate idiots into not over reaching themselves but making people scared to ask for help is a bad idea.

As experienced hill-goers we might think of this sort of recklessness as being embodied by people who go into the Devil's Pulpit in flip-flops. But I can't see why the police might not take exactly the same 'reckless' view of a climber who leads a runout pitch or solos, or of a walker who goes out in bad weather or without a bothy bag.

In reply to Myr:

So far they've only been charged.  We don't yet know whether the case will go to court, or whether they will be convicted if they do.

I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me the bar for this must be fairly high.  Otherwise merely getting in your car would leave you open to the charge.  Not only must you act in a way which exposes someone to significant risk to life or health. you must do so recklessly which means acting with complete disregard for the consequences.  Chucking traffic cones over a bridge onto the road below is reckless.  Visiting a beauty spot, even if you then need rescuing, seems less obviously so.  Was even it a situation which could actually put trained and experienced rescuers in real danger?

Of course we have only the newspaper reports to go on, so we don't know it there were aggravating factors in this particular case, which may include breaches of Covid regulations.

 fred99 13:26 Thu
In reply to Myr:

What happens if someone is charged with this offence, but that person didn't call for rescue - i.e. someone else did.

Surely that person cannot be charged for endangering persons that they didn't even know were coming out.

It's even possible that the third party who did call out MRT could then be regarded (in law) as culpable for the crime of reckless endangerment.

The whole thing is a complete mess, and would lead me, personally, to definitely contemplate deliberately avoiding any possible "rescuers" if I had (for example) been benighted and was walking out the next morning. Now how would that go down if the MRT are on the hill, and don't know that the "victim" is now enjoying breakfast and a cuppa at the nearest snack bar or similar.

 ScraggyGoat 14:24 Thu
In reply to fred99:

Our passion involves taking calculated risk that to many others seams reckless.  

We have already seen opportunistic politicians try to capitalise  on that,   the main stream media see accidents as easy copy with no come-back inviting readership to ‘look at these idiots and feel superciliously and collectively smug /superior that your not as stupid as them’, occasionally inviting the readership to join them in a good old fashioned lynch mob mentality, there are elements of rural society whom would like to deter hillgoers whom will jump on the band wagon, and we know there is a huge industry that would love regulation.  Mountaineering Scotland safety campaigns though laudable play into the anti brigade as they make it look like we need training (and by implication are all incompetent), or are easily skewed that way.  

It’s easy to see this heading in the wrong direction with the appropriate tail wind.

Some will be thinking that on the basis of their experience they will be above such a risk, I think not.

Imagine Andy Nesbitt had survived his fall on Ben Hope. Copper charges him. Case for the prosecution, remote hill, not on established route, upper slopes obviously poorly protected,  old individual with mobility issues, multiple replacement joints, long history of accidents involving rescue services I.e a repeat offender.  Known for soloing things on his own in poor weather........defence argument has to be presented to a random selection of joe public, to whom the prosecution has just explained that the coastguard chopper had to uplift at night, 20 odd people with poor visual references on NVG to the top of a mountain in sub zero conditions. Rescue team then had to lower someone over a thousand five hundred feet in the dark over a cliff they didn’t know and never had practised on, off multiple snow anchors, imagine then the team missed on the first occasion (which would have been a distinct possibility) and had to do it again to be successful. 
Anyone fancy predicting the jury’s decision ?

Post edited at 14:29
 kinley2 06:50 Fri
In reply to Howard J:

> Of course we have only the newspaper reports to go on, so we don't know it there were aggravating factors in this particular case, which may include breaches of Covid regulations.

It took months of deliberation to decide that this charge could be preferred on an MP who had travelled 400miles on a train while knowingly positive with SARS-Cov2. Although in theory this charge could be used on individuals who were unaware of their viral status it would be a massive change in entry level to the charge.

The charge has been used to prosecute knowingly HIV+ individuals for infecting others through sex. This new level is the equivalent of prosecuting individuals for having unprotected sex without having a recent sexual health screen to safely assess their STD status. That assumes none of those charged by Police were knowingly positive for SARS-Cov2.

In reply to Myr:

It is very unfortunate that what I was worried about last time we had this discussion here has basically come to pass in an even more worrying way than prosecution after injury of a rescuer, merely endangerment...

In reply to ScraggyGoat:

They are just being pragmatic.  It becomes a lot easier to stop interaction between high infection urban communities like Glasgow / Edinburgh and low infection rural communities if the cops can just watch a small number of roads and stop cars based on their registration number.  The ease of getting caught also acts as a deterrent.

If you put in a wide open excuse 'yes, officer but I'm going hillwalking' then everybody who isn't going hillwalking will just say that too and it becomes pointless to stop cars.  You also create jealousy within groups 'how come I can't go to X to visit my gran... when they can go there for hillwalking' which itself leads to non-compliance.

It wasn't an ideal policy but government need to make pragmatic, if somewhat arbitrary, decisions and decisions based on limited data during a pandemic.

Having said that - if we have a criminal offence of 'culpable and reckless conduct' the first people we should be charging are Johnson and the Brexiteers for their 'herd immunity' idea which led to not locking down fast enough or banning travel and thousands of unnecessary deaths in the first wave.  

Post edited at 08:07
 rogerwebb 09:03 Fri
In reply to Alkis:

> It is very unfortunate that what I was worried about last time we had this discussion here has basically come to pass in an even more worrying way than prosecution after injury of a rescuer, merely endangerment...

 Culpable and reckless conduct requires conduct that endangers others and that danger could and should have been forseen.

Examples include shooting towards an inhabited area or where people could reasonably be expected to be, spitting in the back of a police vehicle while having covid symptoms in a time of pandemic, chucking a traffic cone off a bridge onto a road and, potentially, travelling on a train while knowing that you have covid.

The common thread in all these examples is that those endangered had no choice as to whether or not they accepted the danger and often had no idea that they were in danger.

This is not the case in mountain rescue where teams have a choice. 

I can't see a prosecution succeeding or even proceeding in the case of a normal climbing or hillwalking call out. 

If by some chance trial did go ahead I doubt the witnesses would be much use to the prosecution. 

A hoax call would be a different matter. 

Post edited at 09:13
 Myr 13:09 Fri
In reply to rogerwebb:

> The common thread in all these examples is that those endangered had no choice as to whether or not they accepted the danger and often had no idea that they were in danger.

> This is not the case in mountain rescue where teams have a choice. 

> I can't see a prosecution succeeding or even proceeding in the case of a normal climbing or hillwalking call out. 

Thanks for this.

So (as someone with no expertise in this field!) what leads the police to make charges where there are not grounds for such a charge? Is it to deter the public from behaviours of which the police disapprove, but which are not illegal? Or is it that policing is done on the fly and there is little time available to explore the legal details of offences?

 daWalt 13:28 Fri
In reply to Myr:

>  what leads the police to make charges

it's easy enough for poly to submit to the PF and let them sort out where to draw the line.

I'm not at all happy about how they seem to taking the "throw enough shit at the wall and see what sticks" approach.

 rogerwebb 13:49 Fri
In reply to Myr:

> Thanks for this.

> So (as someone with no expertise in this field!) what leads the police to make charges where there are not grounds for such a charge?Is it to deter the public from behaviours of which the police disapprove, but which are not illegal? Or is it that policing is done on the fly and there is little time available to explore the legal details of offences?

At the moment we don't know why these charges were made. There may be grounds there may not be. Someone thought there were but ultimately it isn't their decision. It is up to the PF what happens next.

It is though a lot easier to reduce matters later than make them more serious. 

 peppermill 14:35 Fri
In reply to didntcomelast:

> As regards inappropriate footwear, daughter and I went up Scafell Pike yesterday. There were dozens making their way up the final slog of the corridor route, I counted 7 in trainers and cotton jogging pants, three in jeans two wearing shorts and one lady incredibly wearing a pair of Teva sandals, no socks and jeans. The snow off the path was about 20cm deep, the path was compacted and slippery, I was wearing my Katahoolas and this lady was in sandals! I suppose though if there had been a mishap there were plenty of people to help out. 

Seems to work for Himalayan porters. I'd imagine this lot were carrying a wee bit less mind. 

Tbh I've definitely walked into a mountain crag wearing similar when I was living in the Lakes (not the Tevas, like Crocs they're never appropriate regardless of functionality ;p), admittedly not with snow on the ground. 

Post edited at 14:36
 munro90 19:49 Fri
In reply to mondite:

> Maybe have a "walkers awareness" course copying speed awareness. Low(ish) cost and some time out of their day?

Every rescue gets you a credit for a one day of a course at Glenmore? Sounds lucrative...

In reply to Ridge:

Is it 'failure to wear sturdy boots' (I once found a lost walker on a solo fell run and after putting him on a clear path down he then proceeded to lecture me about my footwear and attire..).

I wouldn't have been able to be polite in such a circumstance. 

In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Right - so we should accept the misuse of law in the name of pragmatism? That's possibly the worst affront to democracy and justice that I've heard in some time.

 off-duty 17:52 Sat
In reply to rogerwebb:

> At the moment we don't know why these charges were made. There may be grounds there may not be. Someone thought there were but ultimately it isn't their decision. It is up to the PF what happens next.

> It is though a lot easier to reduce matters later than make them more serious. 

Absolutely this.

Although the OP has provided opportunity for some posts of quite legendary levels of pomposity. So there is that.

In reply to off-duty:

> Although the OP has provided opportunity for some posts of quite legendary levels of pomposity. So there is that.

Bit rich coming from plod pomposity personified.

In reply to tehmarks:

> Right - so we should accept the misuse of law in the name of pragmatism? That's possibly the worst affront to democracy and justice that I've heard in some time.

The law wasn't misused.   It was used legitimately to dissuade people from travelling from cities with high Covid infection rates to rural areas with low Covid infection rates.  The Scottish Government had legal powers to make these rules and obviously pragmatism has to influence how they are drafted.  They need to be enforceable bearing in mind the practical constraints faced by the police and they needed to be relatively simple so people could understand what was and was not allowed.

 S Ramsay 07:44 Sun
In reply to off-duty:

It is pretty hard to see what factors could make these charges reasonable. I would have thought after the Leicestershire women incident you would have given up blindly trying to defend your colleagues when all of the evidence is that they've overstepped the mark

 Offwidth 08:09 Sun
In reply to S Ramsay:

It's actually pretty easy in law...an aggresive response to being requested to do something by the officers.

We still don't know why the 'Leicestershire women' got a FPN and the others arriving at that car park that day were seemingly just turned away after a conversation. The two women claim it was the coffee being described as a picnic and went straight to the press rather than contest the case in court. The officers involved don''t get to give their side of the story if the case might go to court. Policing car parks at beauty spots was against known national police guidance at the time but that was a choice of local senior officers under pressure from local complaints. The government deliberately left our police in a legal fog in a pandemic when they could easily have defined travel in law, as happened in the devolved nations.

In reply to S Ramsay:

> It is pretty hard to see what factors could make these charges reasonable. 

One factor might be if a person had Covid symptoms and went out anyway. That seems to be the basis for similar charges against the MP who went on a long train journey while infected.

Until all the facts in this case emerge it's impossible to tell whether the charges are reasonable or heavy-handed.

 S Ramsay 08:44 Sun
In reply to Offwidth:

An aggressive response shouldn't result in a culpable and reckless charge though should it?

 deepsoup 08:52 Sun
In reply to Offwidth:

> We still don't know why the 'Leicestershire women' got a FPN and the others arriving at that car park that day were seemingly just turned away after a conversation.

Again!?

> The two women claim it was the coffee being described as a picnic and went straight to the press rather than contest the case in court.

We don't know whether or not they intended to contest the case in court, though it's pretty clear they would have won their case had they done so.  The FPN was withdrawn along with many others that the Derbyshire Police accepted were not appropriate well before it came to that.

Nor do we don't know that they 'went straight to the press'.  It's equally likely that the press went to them having found them via social media.  As is so often the case it erupted into a bit of a shitstorm on Facebook before it was in the press.

We also don't know that they immediately kicked off when approached by police and were given tickets on account of their bad attitude.  Though it's easy enough to get there if you assume that they were lying in their account of events and that they must have kicked off with an "aggressive response" when approached by police like a couple of entitled argumentative gobshites.  They do look like a right couple of Karens in their photos to be fair, not that you would ever judge them by their appearance of course.

 mondite 08:53 Sun
In reply to munro90:

> Every rescue gets you a credit for a one day of a course at Glenmore? Sounds lucrative...

I wasnt being overly serious but a voluntary variant on the theme might be useful in some cases where people really have bugger all mountain knowledge (assuming getting rescued hasnt put them off for life).

 Offwidth 09:05 Sun
In reply to deepsoup:

Again you turn my reminder of unknowns into a false position that I assume guilt. One of the local news reports said the two women came to them.

I'm pretty sure they would have won their case given the national guideance. The benefit of it would be we would know why the FPN was issued. Assuming innocence unless otherwise proven, from what they said to the press I don't want our police officers getting away with exaggerating the circumstances in issuing an FPN.

I think the case was pretty trivial in terms of justice (an FPN is hardly major crime and the police overreaction to local complaints understandable) but it was the top news headline in a county in the middle of a pandemic, when protection of public health should have taken precedence. I am concerned with that press agenda, especially in the right wing newspapers who were peddling herd immunity and anti lockdown propaganda at the time. Sumption, in particular, was often given a soapbox way beyond the case details with no questioning on the implication of his mad ideas on the science based epidemiological response to covid.

Post edited at 09:14
 deepsoup 09:08 Sun
In reply to mondite:

True words spoken in jest and all that - I think you're right and there is the germ of a genuinely good idea there.

 Monkeydoo 10:02 Sun
In reply to Myr:

Best bet If you see a rescue situation is just ignore it / you could be getting them In serious trouble!

 off-duty 12:24 Sun
In reply to S Ramsay:

> It is pretty hard to see what factors could make these charges reasonable. I would have thought after the Leicestershire women incident you would have given up blindly trying to defend your colleagues when all of the evidence is that they've overstepped the mark

I can think of lots.

I'm not blindly defending anyone. Despite your suggestion "all of the evidence" is that they've overstepped the mark, there isn't actually any evidence, other than that they've been charged. 

Which is why I was agreeing with Rogerwebb. Let's wait and see.

 peppermill 12:29 Sun
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> The law wasn't misused.   It was used legitimately to dissuade people from travelling from cities with high Covid infection rates to rural areas with low Covid infection rates.  The Scottish Government had legal powers to make these rules and obviously pragmatism has to influence how they are drafted.  They need to be enforceable bearing in mind the practical constraints faced by the police and they needed to be relatively simple so people could understand what was and was not allowed.

Not often I agree with you Tom but I think you're right here. The five mile law sucked, especially in the central belt (Seeing friends living up north having a whale of a time...), during what looked like a cracking winter season but at least it was clear. 

(In reply to the thread thats gone on a bit of a tangent...)

Obviously someone that's responsible and knows what they're doing in the hills wasn't going to cause much of an issue but the bigger picture was fairly obvious- lots of people on furlough with not much else to do but head for the highlands - I'd imagine that would cause a problem sooner or later, not the activity but the potential numbers.

Anyway. It was temporary ( A few weeks FFS) measures for fairly obvious reasons, not someone taking our freedoms away forever.  As others have said there must be much more to the case reported in the OP

Post edited at 12:39
 wercat 13:06 Sun
In reply to peppermill:

I've taken off plastics at the edge of a glacier and dropped thousands of feet to the Lauterbrunnen Valley in sandals, carrying a full alpine sac.  No problems until we entered a village where my ankle turned over, after all those steep rocky paths!!!

Post edited at 13:07
 S Ramsay 13:33 Sun
In reply to deepsoup:

Off topic, but I just want to register my dislike of these women, or any women, being referred to as 'Karens'. It is a wholly misogynistic term and while it's origins in the US may had a specific meaning about white women who make life difficult for black people for no good reason reason, in the UK it just used as shorthand for stupid or annoying woman and as such I don't think that it's use should be tolerated on this forum

 S Ramsay 13:41 Sun
In reply to off-duty:

Let's wait and see with the caveat that if the charges are dropped then we go with the assumption that the the charge was wholly unwarranted otherwise we end up with the same situation as before where because it never got to court you can continue to maintain that the police may have been in the right, a situation in which the police can never be thought to be in the wrong

Post edited at 13:53
 off-duty 15:03 Sun
In reply to S Ramsay:

> Let's wait and see with the caveat that if the charges are dropped then we go with the assumption that the the charge was wholly unwarranted otherwise we end up with the same situation as before where because it never got to court you can continue to maintain that the police may have been in the right, a situation in which the police can never be thought to be in the wrong

The caveat is that charges can get dropped for a variety of reasons from "wholly unwarranted" to "insufficient evidence to convict".  

I appreciate you might not like that caveat, but that's the nature of the law.

 fred99 15:03 Sun
In reply to S Ramsay:

All well and good for people to say "wait and see".

Meanwhile there are persons with a criminal record hanging over their heads for months.

If one of them loses a job, or possibly even end up taking their own life - not unheard of for this to happen to innocent people who have never been in trouble before and who get wrongly arrested, especially with the way such a situation preys on the mind  - then will anyone involved pay damages, or be charged with corporate manslaughter ?

 off-duty 15:07 Sun
In reply to fred99:

> All well and good for people to say "wait and see".

> Meanwhile there are persons with a criminal record hanging over their heads for months.

> If one of them loses a job, or possibly even end up taking their own life - not unheard of for this to happen to innocent people who have never been in trouble before and who get wrongly arrested, especially with the way such a situation preys on the mind  - then will anyone involved pay damages, or be charged with corporate manslaughter ?

You need to be directing your anger at the Bail Act, or whatever legislation they have in Scotland.  The legal process is slow. And if a case is complex or high profile it can be slower.

 deepsoup 17:10 Sun
In reply to S Ramsay:

> Off topic, but I just want to register my dislike of these women, or any women, being referred to as 'Karens'.

Fair comment, it's not a very nice stereotype certainly.  I don't think it's true to say that it's just a shorthand for a 'stupid and annoying woman' in the UK exactly, I would say that more of the original American meaning has been retained than that.  At least in so far as that it also implies a certain strong sense of entitlement.

The assertion has repeatedly been made that they are plainly lying when they say they were given those tickets on the grounds that they'd brought hot drinks with them and were therefore considered to be socialising with each other as opposed to exercising together, that they must have been "aggressive" when spoken to by police and been given FPNs on that basis, and that they immediately 'ran to the press' to whinge about it publicly (very much 'Karen' behaviour in other words) which clearly confirms both their guilt and their bad attitude.

What evidence is there to back up these assertions?  Well we know from the press that one is a beautician while the other normally works as a BA flight attendant, there are photos of them, and that's basically it.

I use the term quite deliberately in that post to point out that that is precisely the way they have been stereotyped in the many threads about that Foremark Reservoir/Calke Abbey malarky (most of which are largely full of me & Offwidth arguing endlessly about this very point), and now also in this one.  And also to acknowledge the fact that as a slightly sexist middle-aged bloke, I need to make a conscious effort not to fall into the trap of lazily stereotyping them thus myself.

 fred99 18:25 Sun
In reply to off-duty:

> You need to be directing your anger at the Bail Act, or whatever legislation they have in Scotland.  The legal process is slow. And if a case is complex or high profile it can be slower.

A good part of my anger is directed at Police Officers who can throw a seemingly ridiculously inflated charge at individuals, fully knowing that it will take ages to come to court, and also that, if (or when) it is found that either the charge is ridiculously inflated, or even completely groundless, these Officers will not even receive a rap over the knuckles.

The end result of these charges is that people are now conflating the (volunteer) MRT personnel with the Police, discussing no longer putting money in their boxes (on the grounds that they are an arm of the Police), and also discussing NOT calling out the MRT in case of an emergency - all because people now wonder just how freely such a criminal charge may be applied.

 off-duty 18:36 Sun
In reply to fred99:

> A good part of my anger is directed at Police Officers who can throw a seemingly ridiculously inflated charge at individuals, fully knowing that it will take ages to come to court, and also that, if (or when) it is found that either the charge is ridiculously inflated, or even completely groundless, these Officers will not even receive a rap over the knuckles.

If the charges are "completely groundless" then there is action that the accused can take.

But there's a lot of assumptions in your post. 

1 That it's a "ridiculously inflated charge". We simply don't know.  I'm not sure of the Scottish system, but there's a fair few gatekeepers in the English system before a charge at that level would be authorised.

2 "Fully knowing it will take ages to come to court". In my, extensive, experience of policing, the time delay of the other parts of the criminal justice system, following police action, have zero bearing on a decision to charge. And certainly would have no impact in choosing a more serious charge to increase the delay. It makes zero sense. If there isn't enough evidence the simplest thing is to "no further action" the job. Less work all round.

> The end result of these charges is that people are now conflating the (volunteer) MRT personnel with the Police, discussing no longer putting money in their boxes (on the grounds that they are an arm of the Police), and also discussing NOT calling out the MRT in case of an emergency - all because people now wonder just how freely such a criminal charge may be applied.

Some people maybe. That's a pity. I wonder what, if anything, differs in this occasion from the numerous other call outs, both pre- and during COVID.

 gravy 19:35 Sun
In reply to Myr:

I think you have to differentiate between experienced people taking informed risks and inexperienced people being reckless. 

Personally both should be rescued when needed and neither should face barriers to calling rescuers. The galling thing to most is people in the latter category but they still need rescuing.

It might be as simple as an instructional notice before tourist routes and an idiot tally for the number of easily avoided call outs.

Big sign on the roads/carparks to Ben Nevis, Mount Yr Wyddfa and Wasdale etc:

"753 avoidable rescues this year, please see BLAH BLAH for advice as to how not to be one".  BLAH should include how (and when) to call MR.

 deepsoup 21:20 Sun
In reply to gravy:

> I think you have to differentiate between experienced people taking informed risks and inexperienced people being reckless.

In terms of a charge of 'culpable and reckless conduct' I don't think you do have to differentiate. 

"Culpable and reckless conduct is deliberate conduct that exposes an individual, or the public generally, to significant risk to life or health."  (My bold.)
https://crime.scot/culpable-and-reckless-conduct/

It isn't a crime you can commit accidentally by making poor decisions about your own safety and subsequently getting yourself in a bit of a pickle.  It isn't 'reckless' in the sense of taking risks to yourself, the conduct has to be reckless in the sense of deliberately endangering others.  So for such a charge to be justified somebody would have to go much further than just venturing up a hill wearing 'inappropriate' shoes and requiring a rescue.  For example perhaps by trundling a boulder off the top of a crag while there are people below.

In reply to off-duty:

> If the charges are "completely groundless" then there is action that the accused can take.

I've pursued a complaint against the met and taken them to court for damages after a wrongful arrest. It took six years of persistence and work to finally wring an admission of wrongdoing and a settlement out of them, and the officers responsible got away scott free as they knew they would. Pretending that the police are actually accountable for the turmoil they can cause in people's lives with petty charges like this is laughable.

> Some people maybe. That's a pity. I wonder what, if anything, differs in this occasion from the numerous other call outs, both pre- and during COVID.

It's not just a pity, it's outrageous and it will cost lives. Not only that, but if people are more reluctant to call for assistance sooner MRTs will be going out in worse conditions to deal with worse situations. It puts volunteers lives at more risk as well.

 off-duty 22:39 Sun
In reply to pancakeandchips:

> I've pursued a complaint against the met and taken them to court for damages after a wrongful arrest. It took six years of persistence and work to finally wring an admission of wrongdoing and a settlement out of them, and the officers responsible got away scott free as they knew they would. Pretending that the police are actually accountable for the turmoil they can cause in people's lives with petty charges like this is laughable.

I don't know the details of your case, but six years is a long time to go through court proceedings which isn't good for anyone.

I agree the police have the potential to cause serious turmoil in people's lives. It's is part and parcel of the additional powers and responsibilities of the office if constable.  

Generally speaking I think the police get it right most of the time, undoubtedly not all of the time. The consequences for getting it wrong, or for abusing their powers can be huge. We've got a murder trial with a police defendant ongoing in the UK, I know several cops that have been sent to prison and sacked. 

There's always going to be disagreement on consequences for officer misconduct, dependant on perspective and circumstance.

> It's not just a pity, it's outrageous and it will cost lives. Not only that, but if people are more reluctant to call for assistance sooner MRTs will be going out in worse conditions to deal with worse situations. It puts volunteers lives at more risk as well.

Which is why it would be helpful to know the full facts. This is a very unusual charge for what doesn't appear to be a particularly unusual set of circumstances, so the rationale might be revealing.


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