PMR (Private Mobile Radios)
(Published January 2023, replacing October 2021)
Private Mobile Radios (PMR) are a useful event and activity communication tool in Scouting.
How can we get communications facilities?
There are several ways to ensure good communications at Scout events.
- Scout Communications Teams – Scout Active Support Units can exist to provide support with the communications at events. Talk to your ACC Activities to see if your County or a District or Group within your County provides this service.
- Buy your own set of radios. There are further details about this, including how to get a licence to use these radios, later on this page.
- 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 Scouts. These teams in general are self-financing and ask for a donation towards the cost of maintenance, renewal and insurance.
The cost of purchasing radio equipment, which conforms to the correct standards may be 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. In addition equipment requires appropriate insurance to be in place to cover these high value items should they be damaged or lost.
When purchasing radios the purchaser needs to ensure that they are aware there is a notable market for cheap private mobile radios. These radios may not be the correct type or UK approved so we advise against purchasing non-classified radios.
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 thousands of pounds and, in severe cases, criminal prosecution.
If you get your own radios there are a number of licensing options depending on your requirements.
The Scouts holds a Business Radio (Simple Site) Licence from Ofcom, and the simplest way for members to license their radios is to use this licence. Full details of the requirements for using this as a sub-licensee can be found in the Terms and Conditions.
If your proposed usage of your radios does not fit within these terms and conditions 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 Scouts.
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 or Ship Portable Radio Licence
Ofcom provide full details of these licences.