User Services

Last updated by Julian – December 2018

South West Hampshire Raynet is part of Raynet-UK, a nationwide organisation which exists to provide backup communications on behalf of public services in times of emergency. We are mostly Radio Amateurs, although anyone with an interest in communication is welcome to join:
Under the conditions of the amateur radio licence, only licensed operators can actually use the radio for routine messages.  However our licence does allow “The use or permit the use of the Radio Equipment by a member of a User
Service during any operation conducted by a User Service or during any exercise relating to such an operation in each case for the purpose of sending Messages on behalf of the User Service.” – So “User Services” can use our radios.

The terms of the amateur licence mean that we can only pass messages on behalf of bona-fide “user services”. These are listed as:

  • British Red Cross Society
  • St John Ambulance Brigade
  • St Andrew’s Ambulance Association
  • Women’s Royal Voluntary Service
  • Salvation Army
  • Any ‘Category 1’ responder – E.G. Police, Fire or Ambulance Service
  • Any Category 2 responder as defined in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004
  • Any UK government department

We were called out out as a “live event” to provide traffic information over the diversion routes for the Romsey Road Bridge works over the M27 over two days in 2018. This involved all Hampshire Groups as well as others from Wiltshire, Sussex & Dorset, as the long route went via Salisbury & the A303.

We assisted the West Sussex group when they were called out for the Chichester floods, our members were involved in the 1987 storm clear up, and we were on standby on the night the Hampshire telephone network failed. Most of our group’s members saw in the new millenium in control rooms for the various Hampshire emergency services: No-one thought the computerised communications systems would fall victim to the ‘Millenium Bug’ (and they didn’t), but we were asked to be there just in case. The whole of Hampshire was on standby for the floods in Gloucestershire when power could have been disrupted over a major area.

As emergencies are fortunately rare, we practice our skills by providing radio cover (on behalf of one of the user services) on all sorts of events: Horse rides, marathons, sponsored cycle rides, and long distance walks.

We also take part in training exercises, where voluntary and full-time emergency service groups practice working together in a simulated major incident. One of Raynet-UK strengths is that the members use radio all the time: it’s what we specialise in, and we generally use our own equipment, either owned by groups or personal kit belonging to members. As part of the national Raynet-UK organisation, we can call on operators from adjacent groups to swell our numbers, or provide specialist expertise or equipment, when needed: In return, of course, our members are sometimes asked to go and work with them. In each case, we are all gaining valuable experience in working together.

It’s worth noting that there are a few things we cannot do, especially if you’re thinking of asking us to attend an event you’re organising:

Raynet-UK members do not provide first aid cover:
Although many of our members are trained first aiders, it is not what we’re on your event for.

Raynet-UK members are not traffic marshals:
Raynet-UK members are not trained for this task, and Raynet-UK public liability insurance does not cover us to do it.

Raynet-UK members are not event marshals:
If an event safety checkpoint is short of staff, a Raynet-UK member may lend a hand, but not to the detriment of his/her main task, which is providing communications on behalf of the user service.