Telecoms workers to lose law safeguard

Is nothing sacred?

The Government wants to remove special legal protection for telecoms workers as part of new legislation due to be introduced within the next two years.

Under Section 46 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 it is an offence for people to assault or obstruct a public telecommunications operator trying to do his - or her - job.

However, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is looking to repeal this section of the Act believing that the issue of assault on telecoms staff is already dealt with in common law and that the issue of obstruction is adequately covered by the law of trespass.

According to a draft consultation paper seen by El Reg BT has resisted calls to repeal this section in the past on the grounds that "their employees are assaulted and need proper protection".

A spokesman for BT was unable to describe the scale of the problem or say how many of its operators were obstructed or assaulted each year.

But he said: "BT will be liasing with the DTI and seeking as much protection for its staff as possible." Quite right too. ®

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