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Use Pirate radio to catch criminals says Duwayne Brooks

Councillor Dwayne Brooks

Liberal Democrat Cllr Duwayne Brooks has called for Police to use pirate radio stations to help crack criminal cases.

The Lib Dem cllr who recently decided throw his hat into the ring and seek the Lib Dem ticket for the 2012 Mayoral election explained why he thought the London Police forces should introduce alternative measures:

“The police talk about engagement with the community, but what are they actually doing about it? They talk about Safer Neighbourhood Teams but the ward panels that meet aren’t representative of people in the borough.

“I would like to see police appearing on these stations to get more in touch with the community and make appeals.”

Brooks who is also Vice Chairman of the Lewisham Community Police Consultative Group added that the wide reaching audiences that pirate stations often attract, could be an effective way of obtaining information especially from younger members of the community.
Many online stations have discussion forums. One radio station manager who wished to remain anonymous said:

“We reach to such a wide and large audience. It is a huge tool the police could be using. Our Sunday show gets 2,000 listeners from the internet alone so the radio can be an effective way of getting a message across.  We have run our own appeals for information after incidents, and tell anyone who knows anything to contact the family or police.”

While the call from Brooks will resonate with some whether or not such measures will be introduced remains to be seen. A grey area remains over legality of the idea given that pirate radio stations themselves are illegal.

A spokesperson for the Met said the Police could not “not endorse or condone” the plan.

“We encourage campaigns that aim to raise awareness of the impact crime has and recognise that the delivery of the message is a complex challenge that involves using a variety of media and methods.”

Cllr Brooks’ call comes against the backdrop of Immigration Minister Damian Green’s
remarks yesterday with which he argued that the state should not interfere with individuals invading the online privacy of others.

By Richard Sudan

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One Response

  1. Any observer of the authorities stance on ‘pirate’ radio will know that the police and Ofcom have long been monitoring those stations for criminality, as well as carrying out many raids every year taking them off air. Police have also frequently warned people who have advertised on those stations.

    What I think is missing from the debate is an acknowledgement that not all community stations are hives of criminality – many, most of them are running their stations free of links to organised crime. There are a few who sadly do have such links and I welcome the action which authorities are taking against them.

    There is a wider debate about how to make it easier for community stations to broadcast legitimately without the disadvantages that come with Ofcom community licences: weak signals with limited reach; time-limited licences etc. We need a complete overhaul of the regulatory regime to ensure that radio pioneers in the community are enabled rather than criminalised.

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