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UK Paranormal Investigation Changes Forever? The ASSAP big announcement

Posted in Paranormal by Chris Jensen Romer on September 11, 2011

If you are interested in this matter you may wish to read my Interview With Dave Woods, Chair of ASSAP on the changes, which I posted later and which clarifies many aspects of the proposals.

OK, I’m back from the ASSAP Seriously Strange conference now, and heard the “big announcement”. And yes it is big and yes it might well change things forever at least for a lot of small paranormal groups. It won’t however effect anyone outside the UK, but basically, from what we were told, ASSAP, the Association for Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena has been recognised by the UK government as the Professional Body of “paranormal investigators”. That does not mean the UK Government believes in the paranormal in any way: far from it, all it means is that it recognises that “paranormal investigators” deal with potentially distressed clients, and that it is in the public interest to allow some form of self regulation of the sector.

Now the announcement was made last night, and I mentioned it then as word started to filter out, but an afternoon session today allowed us to put questions to David and Nicky of ASSAP: some were not directly answered, but many were. Firstly they were keen to point out this is NOT a takeover bid: they envisage many small groups continuing to operate, etc, etc, just as now. It may have ramifications for the “Paranormal tourism” industry and people running commercial events – but what they will be is completely unclear at this time, and will be subject to consultation with the industry. From the response to my question I also question whether groups will be recognised, or merely the individuals within those groups. ASSAP already has a certification process for paranormal investigators which involves attending a training event (next one January, around £29 to attend the weekend course as I recall?) — but ASSAP will not have the scope to train everyone in the area.

However enforcement will not be by ASSAP kicking in your door and taking away your EMF meter. I think its more likely that everyone will be asked to *voluntarily* sign up to a Code of Practice or similar. At this stage ASSAP appear to have the government recognition, and their website has changed to www.assap.ac.uk, but are still in the process of consultation and working out how they will operate as a professional body.

The SPR already serves as a sort of professional body for academic psychical researchers, the Parapsychological Association for parapsychologists, and there will be no impact on members of those organisations.

There may be education and even qualification options down the line, but for now the whole purpose seems to be providing ethical guidelines, assistance and recognition and representation for the paranormal investigation community in the UK. I’m still unsure how who counts as a paranormal investigator will be decided, but clearly it may have to be more than “people who say they are” at some point, else this could be a professional body for amateur enthusiasts, which seems all rather contradictory! I rather like the idea of a professional body, as that means there must presumably be a profession – will Cheltenham Job Centre offfer me a post as a Paranormal Investigator? I have already said I will create a Union :)

It’s all incredibly vague, and some obvious questions can’t be answered yet. Everyone, ASSAP member or not, is strongly encouraged to get involved in the consultation process – ASSAP are very keen to point out they are not going to try and impose anything on people without consultation, and indeed it all seems rather voluntary – recognition, in exchange for ASSAP acting as a sort of “paranormal ombudsmen” – and ending up being asked no doubt to get involved in a million small group politics struggles ;)

Anyhow, despite probably a couple of hours snatched at the conference talking to ASSAP chair David Wood, I’m still really vague about almost everything, but my honest advice is “don’t panic!”. This is big, but I don’t think any group is going to be hurt or damaged by this, unless that group is filled with unethical tossers who actually harm people they are supposed to be helping – and if you mainly just hunt ghosts in public venues likes pubs, castles and so forth, it may not effect you much at all?

Despite being a speaker at the conference we were not told anything till it was announced, and so I have had no time t think it through properly, but we have all heard horror stories about traumatized families and loonies masquerading as researchers, burning furniture, vandalising and trespassing, etc, etc. Regulation will I guess end all that! Is it a good thing? I have no idea at the moment, but I see the potential, and yes I think it might be. Sceptics have been complaining about unregulated self-appointed paranormal experts for years – well now that’s no longer the case, maybe!

Look here for the details of the official announcement later tonight. I’m off to catch a few hours sleep after a fantastic conference…

http://www.assap.ac.uk/index.html

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8 Responses

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  1. Forest Paranormal Investigations said, on September 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    All for standards, far too many uninsured, cowboy groups out there – FPI

  2. Sandy Watson said, on September 12, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I can see advantages & disadvantages to this. Who will be regulating ASSAP?

  3. Chris Jensen Romer said, on September 12, 2011 at 9:57 am

    It’s worth reading my interview with ASSAP chair Dave Wood. The more I read, the more I think the question mark in my title may be appropriate. It may not be that big a change at the moment after all…?

    • Sandy Watson said, on September 12, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks Chris – have read it and am sitting tight for now :-)

  4. Jonathan Covington said, on September 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    It always starts with promises then when your trust is gained the shadowy goverment clerks draw up more laws like having your equipment registered a nice stealthy tax; a licence, then equipment checks to make sure that your equipment is up to speck. As soon as the goverment gets involved they slowly take over as per usual. I view this all with suspicion they want to control every thing. If Assap were open then why didn’t they mention everything that’s worrying. It’s just another control measure a masquerade, once you start paying for licences , equipment tests once a year, where will it all stop? Asbos for people who do not comply?

    • Chris Jensen Romer said, on September 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      Hi Jonathan

      Well I don’t think the government intends to have any role at all. ASSAP has simply been recognised as a Professional Body by HMRC: given they are already a charity that’s not really surprising. When I wrote this little was known, but all is much clearer now – check out my interview with Dave Woods on this blog, and the ASSAP web pages for a lot more detail now :)

      cj x

  5. Bill Getas said, on September 26, 2011 at 8:27 am

    After decades of derision as “conspiracy theory”, this is all about getting control over free speech, free thought and free association. Don’t be fooled. The only people who can think outside Their controlled box tend to frequent paranormal type sites and pursuits. Give over access or any control and it will be doom for the paranromal sites, driving all open minds elsewhere underground. Figures it would come from the bastion of mind control, England. Look up John Coleman’s Committee of 300 (youtube) if you want to read anything smart that matters. East Ghost Com

    • Chris Jensen Romer said, on September 26, 2011 at 10:07 am

      Hey Bill – actually if you google the youtube videos for the Seriously Strange conference where this was announced you will find that indeed many of the ASSAP members are definitely “free spirits” — I did not really understand some of the politics and conspiracy theorists I met there, but hell they are not going to conform to anyone! The good news is that the initial freak out by me and others when we wondered what the hell is going on was misguided – it’s actually only going to effect ASSAP members, and they only if they sign up, and is basically a filing for tax recognition – an HMRC filing. It all becomes clearer here http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/an-interview-on-the-big-announcement-with-assap-chair-dave-wood/ when I interviewed the Chair Dave Woods.

      So big government ain’t interested in ghosts, at this time here. Not to say it could never happen, but the UK ghost scene is definitely filled with free-thinking, non-conformist and radical minds, and I think it unlikely. Anyway here is that video by Ben the Porter he shot at the conference which I really enjoyed — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpqnsT7IN1s&feature=related


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