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Thread: MOD geocaching policy

  1. #1

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    Default MOD geocaching policy

    MoD advised GAGB that they were considering their policy towards geocaching in December 2012. GAGB have informed and lobbied on the preparation of this policy over recent months and whilst this process is not yet complete, it is clear that physical caches will not be permitted. The reasons that they have been given are (verbatim):

    “a. National Security - It is not appropriate to encourage people to leave or conceal (marked or unmarked) packages on any part of the MOD estate as it contradicts all security procedures and could lead to false security alerts.

    b. Public Risk - the majority of the MOD training estate is a risk area where blank fire, pyrotechnics and smoke may be used even outside of the 'live fire' danger areas. The UXO danger is self evident in live ranges but also exists in dry training areas where individuals could inadvertently disturb, or harm themselves, on military debris whilst searching for (or hiding) geo-caches.”

    Negotiations are ongoing to consider if non-physical steps / virtual stages may be permitted, for example early steps of multi and puzzle caches, whereigo and Earthcaches. If this is permitted in locations with public access, then it may be possible to place some caches of these types (where appropriate a physical stage could be placed on non-MoD property), with appropriate safety messages on the cache pages.

    GAGB has advised Geocaching.com, Opencaching.com and Opencaching.org.uk listing sites (ie those listing sites which communicate with GAGB). MoD intend to review existing physical caches on MoD property regardless of whether they were placed originally with permission. Listing sites will make their own announcement about any further steps.

    Here is a google map drawn by Graculus to help identify boundaries.

    We will continue to negotiate on this and will advise of developments when appropriate.

  2. #2

    Default

    This was recently brought up in the GS main forum here http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/ind...owtopic=312093 I pointed the cacher to the GAGB forums and I think he's submitted a membership request.

  3. #3

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    Default

    The UK reviewing team have discussed this change of MOD policy and have decided that no caches will now be published on MOD land. More information in the UK Forum post http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/ind...owtopic=312162

    Chris
    Graculus
    Volunteer UK Reviewer for geocaching.com
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
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  4. #4

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    Default

    Good luck policing that. As yet I cannot find a definitive database of all MOD land.... And I'm in the military!

  5. #5

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    Question What about letterboxing?

    Does the GAGB have any information as to whether the MOD are also banning letterboxing?

    Given the similarities to Geocaching it seems odd (and unfair) to ban one but not the other...

    What would happen if a letterbox were also a cache? Or if the information to find a cache outside the banned zone was hidden in a letterbox?


    Please note that I'm asking as a player and not as a reviewer (in which capacity I will continue to blindly do as I'm told!)


    Mike

  6. #6

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    Default

    I guess that letterboxes have been mentioned quite a bit, if
    GAGB have informed and lobbied on the preparation of this policy over recent months.

    So how did the MOD explain that anomaly? Also, in the Public Risk section, surely if there's public access to an MOD area then these risks exist whether or not there are geocaches.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Humphrey View Post
    I guess that letterboxes have been mentioned quite a bit, if
    So how did the MOD explain that anomaly? Also, in the Public Risk section, surely if there's public access to an MOD area then these risks exist whether or not there are geocaches.
    Anyone? Surely someone here was involved and asked the obvious questions?

  8. #8

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    Default

    Around our way there is a lot of MOD land. I live in Frimley, on the Surrey / Hants border.

    There are two main sets of ranges: Ash and Pirbright.

    Both Ash Ranges, and Pirbright ranges are surrounded by a Red flag zone. Funnily enough, this used to be known as the DANGER area. They even had signs up every so often saying DANGER. A few years ago all these signs were either removed or the words spraypainted out, but I digress.

    However, not all the MOD land is in these zones. They have a lot of land surrounding it too, where they do such things as orienteering, band marching practice and the like. They also allow running clubs and the like to use the land, and people can picnic there or forage in the woods for blackberries, bilberries, or mushrooms if they so desire.

    Within the red flag zone, in Ash Vale ranges, the public is permitted, when the flags aren't flying. Years ago there was a small area out back which was fenced off due to UXO, but that has since been cleared. There is cattle grazing there too.

    However, the Pirbright ranges are permanently out of bounds to the public. You couldn't get in if you tried, as there is a big barbed wire fence all around it. This is because there is an abundance UXO there.

    My point is, that the MOD are fully aware of where the dangers are, so any ban that is being put in place is not down to that. None of the local wardens I have spoken to over the last couple of days are even aware of this ban. They had no personal problem with geocaches either, provided common sense was employed.

    I said on the main geocaching forum that ordinary members can assist here, and I will repeat that sentiment here. We can check existing caches on MOD land to make sure they are not contravening byelaws, and we can practice cache-in trash-out. My main query with regards to this is who should we report contravening caches too?

    Oh, hello by the way. And thanks for the prompt assistance of the mods who helped sort out the problem with my account!

  9. #9

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    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by Puzbie View Post
    Around our way there is a lot of MOD land. I live in Frimley, on the Surrey / Hants border.

    There are two main sets of ranges: Ash and Pirbright.

    Both Ash Ranges, and Pirbright ranges are surrounded by a Red flag zone. Funnily enough, this used to be known as the DANGER area. They even had signs up every so often saying DANGER. A few years ago all these signs were either removed or the words spraypainted out, but I digress.

    However, not all the MOD land is in these zones. They have a lot of land surrounding it too, where they do such things as orienteering, band marching practice and the like. They also allow running clubs and the like to use the land, and people can picnic there or forage in the woods for blackberries, bilberries, or mushrooms if they so desire.

    Within the red flag zone, in Ash Vale ranges, the public is permitted, when the flags aren't flying. Years ago there was a small area out back which was fenced off due to UXO, but that has since been cleared. There is cattle grazing there too.

    However, the Pirbright ranges are permanently out of bounds to the public. You couldn't get in if you tried, as there is a big barbed wire fence all around it. This is because there is an abundance UXO there.

    My point is, that the MOD are fully aware of where the dangers are, so any ban that is being put in place is not down to that. None of the local wardens I have spoken to over the last couple of days are even aware of this ban. They had no personal problem with geocaches either, provided common sense was employed.

    I said on the main geocaching forum that ordinary members can assist here, and I will repeat that sentiment here. We can check existing caches on MOD land to make sure they are not contravening byelaws, and we can practice cache-in trash-out. My main query with regards to this is who should we report contravening caches too?

    Oh, hello by the way. And thanks for the prompt assistance of the mods who helped sort out the problem with my account!
    What we are currently facing, is the same situation as with the Royal Parks.

    For a large number of years, individual Park Managers, happily gave Permission for Geocaches. And in fact, quite a few of these were owned by a member of the Royal Parks Ground Staff.

    A Geocacher asked for Permission to place caches in Greenwich Park, and the Park Manager there refused. Initially quoting the fact that the Olympic Equestrian Events, were being held there. Even though that was several years in the future at that point.

    The Geocacher, then took his request to the Director of the Royal Parks, up to then, this person had not been aware of Geocaching, nor the caches within the Royal Parks properties.

    Without to the best of my knowledge, the Director did not consult with the Local Managers under him. Instead involved just the Royal Parks Police department [which is a Department within the Metropolitan Police Service]. And despite negotiations, applied a Total Ban on Geocaching, on Royal Park Properties.

    It would appear that local MOD Managers are happy for Geocaching to take place. But at a Senior Level, someone(s) are not prepared to allow Geocaching to take place.

    Unfortunately unless the Local Managers, are given specific permission by Senior Management, they can not Overrule Policy set at a Senior Management Level.

    It is at a Senior Management Level that we have to persuade, that suitably monitored, Geocaching is a appropriate activity to take place on some if not all of their properties open to the public.

    On a personal basis, I've come across a issue, where Management at a specific Level, can block activities allowed by Management at other levels.

    I have a County Council local to where I live, whose Parks and Countryside Rangers, highly support Geocaching [in fact they have for me personally, supported 2 requests for permission with other Landowners. Both successful]. Because County Hall is outside of the Main Town in the County, it is highly naturefied. So I wished to place one or two caches there.

    Initially Permission off the Estate Manager was not a issue, despite the fact that a Crown Court and also a Theatre are located within the precincts. It was only when he was instructed by a Senior Manager at the CC, to get the approval of the Councils Legal Department, that things fell apart. And a Refusal was made.

    So now there is a situation, with Staff at a CC, being highly supportive, and allowing Geocaching on CC property. But due to the fact the Councils Legal Department would have to approve any agreement. We can not enter into a Geocache Placement Agreement with them. So each cache, has to be individually approved, rather than covered by a Blanket Agreement.

    How we can move forward, is not something I can suggest. Appealing at a higher level, will as the Royal Parks showed us, just be referred back to the MOD for their consideration.

    Maybe getting local MP's involved in the discussions, pointing out the potential benefit Geocaching has, by bringing in visitors to a area, as part of the contact.

    Currently Groundspeak's Volunteer UK Reviewers, are the ones who will be the bad guys. Because we are aware of the Ban, put in place at a Senior Management Level. And knowing that this Ban has not yet been filtered down to a Local Management Level. Still have to refuse any future Cache Submission, even if a local MOD Manager has given Permission, unless that Local Manager, can confirm that Management at a Senior Level, have given permission to overrule the Ban. Because to ignore the Ban and Publish, could be putting that local Manager in a extremely awkward position, one that could affect the persons future employment within the MOD.
    Deci
    My post is my personal opinion and as such you do not have my permission to quote me outside of these forums!

    Dave
    Brenin Tegeingl
    Formerly known as Mancunian Pyrocacher on GC

  10. #10

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mancunian View Post
    Still have to refuse any future Cache Submission, even if a local MOD Manager has given Permission, unless that Local Manager, can confirm that Management at a Senior Level, have given permission to overrule the Ban. Because to ignore the Ban and Publish, could be putting that local Manager in a extremely awkward position, one that could affect the persons future employment within the MOD.
    Deci
    As I said elsewhere, it's up to us to make sure that the local manager is aware of the ban. Beyond that I don't see why we have to abide by an imaginary inflexible rule. So if the manager says "Thanks for warning me, I'm (now) aware of the ban but I give permission anyway" I really don't see why his competence has to be questioned in such an insulting way. Anyway, we can't tell what level the decision has to be made at. What if it's the Duke of Westminster's land? Do we have to insist on a signed letter from the Duke himself before we trust a decision?

    I'm reminded of the story about the Duke of Devonshire, who was strolling along the foot of Chatsworth Edge (before the days of open access in the Peak District), and was shown some rock climbers making their way up the crag. No doubt the gamekeeper would have seen them off, but the Duke merely murmured "Ah..climbers. Doing no harm, doing no harm" and gave them a friendly wave.

    How to progress. It's no surprise that involving senior management leads to a negative outcome. What's in it for them? No doubt the usual amount of time spent considering such trivial nonsense. If they are made aware of geocaching they aren't going to take the trouble to understand it fully, so they'll see it (quite rightly) as a bit of nuisance and a minor problem.

    As the GAGB are kind enough to offer to administer an instant and complete ban, that's almost guaranteed to happen. What could be easier? "Shooting yourself in the foot" comes to mind.

    As I see it the GAGB has to refuse the ban until certain matters have been clarified. In this particular case, we should have an explanation from senior management as to how come geocaches are such a big problem when many (if not all) local managers see no problem with them: after all, they're the experts, not the central office lot.

    Also, in this case, there's a clear flaw in the reasoning we've been given. So there is a danger from people sticking log books in hidden spots in the countryside. BUT...only if they subsequently publish the coordinates on a particular web site. Surely that would make such log books less dangerous, wouldn't it, if anyone can check where to expect them? And yet the letterbox version of the game is seen as perfectly allowable, even though it's harder to ascertain exactly where they lie.

    It may be that all this has been questioned and answered; but if so, it should have been made clear here. The fact that we have so little detail about negotiations makes you suspect that the negotiators fell into the trap of offering to accept and administrate any decision made - however dubious the reasoning given - which is tantamount to asking for a ban.

    So if the senior management refuse to give satisfactory explanations, I don't see why the GAGB has to go ahead with the ban. Surely they'd be expected to say something along the lines of "We understand that you don't want geocaching, and we are quite prepared to assist in preventing the activity on your land, but at the moment don't feel that we can justify such action to our colleagues as we are unable to give a convincing explanation of the reasoning involved. Please get in touch and we'll discuss this further: in the meantime we'll merely warn that there is some confusion about placing geocaches in certain areas of your land."

    Perhaps it's all too late now, but as the number of bans seems to increase as fast as the number of caches it's worth getting ready for the next occasion that this arises.

  11. #11

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    If a Landowner Bans Geocaching, it is up to us to comply with that. We do not have to understand the reasoning behind it, or believe that the decision is correct. Just simply comply, because it is not our Land.

    And once again your suggesting that a Manager at a Lower Level, should ignore Policy set at a Higher Level of Management.

    So question for you, and please think carefully before answering.

    You as the Senior Manager in a Company, set a specific and defined Policy for that company. Then later on you find that a Lower Level Manager has knowingly ignored the Policy. Because they did not believe it should apply.

    Do you
    i: Pat them on the back and say well done?
    ii: Have Strong Words with them. Rescind the decision they made to ignore your Policy.
    iii: Rescind the Decision they made. And Subject them to Disciplinary Proceedings. Even though that could result in Termination of Employment, of affect future Promotions. Which will at the end of the day, affect that persons Final Salary Pension. So affecting them for the rest of their lives.

    Given that as Employee's of the MOD, those Managers, which you state should ignore the Policies set by their Senior Managers, just because you disagree with the Policy. Are Civil Servants employed by the UK Government.

    So they risk option iii: by knowingly ignoring the Policy set by Managers above them.

    You might be happy to live with that, but I know my colleagues and I, could not. Because at the end of the day, Geocaching is a Hobby. And peoples lives have to take priority over the hobby!

    Just like until enshrined in UK Law, that we have a Right to Place caches, wherever we wish. We have to comply with the requirements of Landowners. It is their Land to make decisions about, not ours. We do not have a right to dictate to Landowners, because we don't agree, or feel that they have not explained their decision to the last full stop.

    And the GAGB as a Association can not and do not List Geocaches, that is down to each individual Listing Site. So the GAGB can only report the Landowner Requirements to those Listing Sites, in a unbiased way.

    I am aware of one Listing Site, which took over 6 months, after a Landowner contacted them, requiring caches Listed on their Listing Site without His/Her Permission be removed [the Landowner being a Geocacher] it was only after 4 communications with that Listing Site, a Legal Notice was sent to them, that they complied with the Landowners request, and removed the Listings.

    Luckily that was outside of the UK, but imagine the repercussions if GC, acted in such a way. In regards to Geocaches in the UK. How long do you believe our hobby would last, before Major Landowners were contacting their MP's demanding something was done about this hobby? We have to treat all Landowners with respect, comply with their requirements, and continue to work to overturn their Bans.

    By ignoring them, we would just alienate those Landowners, and create a situation of more and more Bans.

    And it is easy to castigate the GAGB over the Ban, having had to on a Number of times, personally make contact with Landowners who have made contact, requesting caches without their permission be removed.

    In a number of cases, I have managed to turn around the Landowners Decision. Not by demanding they do so, but by compromising with them, making suggestions to them. Even personally apologising to them, because a Member has placed a cache(s) without their permission.

    But I've not been successful in every case. So I must personally be responsible for those Bans! And for that I can only personally apolagise to the community!



    Deci
    My post is my personal opinion and as such you do not have my permission to quote me outside of these forums!

    Dave
    Brenin Tegeingl
    Formerly known as Mancunian Pyrocacher on GC

  12. #12

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    Well, the blame for the Royal Parks ban quite clearly lies with the cacher who tried to overrule the local manager. I hope the MOD fiasco didn't result from the same actions.

    Over the past few days, I've had chats with a number of local MOD land managers in my area. None of them had ever actually heard of geocaching, though one had once found a microcache in a pipe! They were very supportive but I told them that at the moment the point was moot because of this ban.

    Now, when they heard about this ban from me, they said they would do what they can to find out any information from upper management, which would be helpful.

    But this is why I say that we should be doing what we can to make sure that existing caches are not against the rules. I'm quite happy to do an audit of the ones in my area on MOD land, but I don't know who to report the info to. I asked on the main geocaching site but the only response I got suggested I flag the caches for maintenance or contact the CO. However, if I mark them for maintenance it kind of highlights problems, which wouldn't be a good idea in the current climate.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mancunian View Post
    And once again your suggesting that a Manager at a Lower Level, should ignore Policy set at a Higher Level of Management.
    Once again? I've never said that, either here or elsewhere. Where did you get that from? If it's on Facebook then it wasn't me because I haven't discussed this on Facebook. Perhaps you're misreading my post. Let me make it quite clear.

    I'M NOT ADVOCATING THAT ANYONE OVERRULES THEIR BOSS'S POLICY!

    However, if the representative at the MOD says that he's aware of the policy and yet he's happy to give permission for the cache, then I'm saying that permission has been granted and we shouldn't be so rude as to assume that the officer is incompetent and/or insubordinate. Haven't you considered that the local official might have checked with the senior officer and had dispensation to give permission? Or would I have to check who the senior officer was and whether he is actually senior enough? Where does it stop? Anyway, quite often policies on very trivial matters like this are left to the local manager to implement and they may be given powers of discretion. So it's not necessarily a matter of hierarchy. I don't know, in this case, but I suspect that you don't either. The MOD wouldn't give out details of such matters.

    Nevertheless, I'm aware that Groundspeak prefer to take the safest line so are likely to refuse the listing despite the permission being granted: I'd probably get it listed elsewhere.

    But rather than banging on about what might happen should an idiotic (as you infer) official make a mistake and allow someone to put a film pot under a letterbox somewhere (which admittedly, is something the army would be well employed in preventing, whatever the cost!), perhaps you could address my main points?

  14. #14

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    1) Did the MOD directly contact the GAGB or did the GAGB become involved after being made aware of the issue?

    2) Groundspeak reviewers were aware of this before we were informed, were representatives from other listing sites give their permission for the GAGB to act on their behalf?

    3) Did anyone ask directly what had triggered the MOD's decision to review the placement of geocaches on their land?

    4) Who is negotiating?

  15. #15

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    This was posted on the geocaching.com forum by the GAGB Committee:

    GAGB approached MoD after we were advised by a cacher that some caches had been refused permission by a local MoD organisation, after it had consulted the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). We received a copy of this mail stating that MoD were considering their policy towards geocaching but this first mail also stated that:
    “Unfortunately we cannot, at present, give permission for any physical geocache to be placed anywhere on our estate. Whilst the MOD does operate a presumption in favour of public access on its estate, when compatible with military operations and training, we do not consider physical geocaches acceptable for local and national reasons”

    Following this, our negotiations have been with the Access and Recreation team in the DIO who will own this policy. We have requested maps of the land affected. Negotiations are ongoing and we are working to identify land which may be suitable for geocaching (virtual stages and possibly physical caches). I presume that once the policy has been finalised by DIO, that they will circulate it to their land managers.

    In the case of the Royal Parks and BT phone boxes, we were contacted after they had already made their decisions. This didn’t stop us trying and we have had some success in turning round such situations, for example the Forestry Commission New Forest.


    Dave - caching as The Wombles
    Personally I think this practice of approaching senior management when local management has said no to a cache is seriously asking for trouble. We should respect the local managers as the easiest solution for senior management is to ban all caching. The problem goes then goes away at a stroke, in their eyes.

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