A police force has banned officers from watching TV in their stations during the World Cup – and confiscated all remote controls.
Television screens across the Avon and Somerset force area have been covered with a sign reading “DO NOT TURN ON UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE”.
Officials have blamed the ban – which also cover the Wimbledon tournament – on a copyright row with a music licensing company.
The force is currently being sued by Phonographic Performance Limited, which claims the force has been playing music through television sets without a licence.
It means officers will not be able to relax in front of the TV during break times – and won’t be able to watch any of the World Cup.
But the big switch-off has been slammed by rank-and-file officers, many of whom have been unable to take annual leave during the tournament so they can patrol rowdy fans.
One officer, who did not want to be named, said the remote had been confiscated in his station to stop tempted officers from sneaking a peek at the scores.
He said: “Just because we’re police officers doesn’t mean we don’t like watching the football like any other person. Maybe we’re not trusted to only watch the games in our rest periods.
“People on late shifts from 2pm until 11pm would usually come in for dinner some time during the evening, but now they won’t get to watch the football on their break.
“It all seems like somewhat unfortunate timing that the ban has come in just before the World Cup.
“A big sign’s gone up in the station and we can’t watch the TV. Apparently it’s for rights reasons.””
Police officers are usually allowed to take half an hour off for a break every day, giving them time to relax and eat – and usually watch TV.
During the last World Cup and the 2012 European Championships, officers were allowed to watch parts of the matches in their breaks, if their workload allowed it.
But the ban, which came in three days before the first match, means they have no way of watching any games or highlights.
On-shift officers will not be allowed to watch the final on July 13 – even if the England team made it that far.
Avon and Somerset Police’s director of finance said the ban was in place because the force was being sued for copyright infringement by the music licensing company,
Julian Kern said: “The Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) is currently suing the Constabulary for breach of copyright in connection with the broadcasting of recorded music.
“In the course of managing these proceedings it has become apparent that where music is broadcast through TVs, either through a digital music channel or in the course of adverts, this can also amount to a breach of copyright.
“As the PPL has threatened to obtain an injunction against the Constabulary unless we can show that we have taken serious steps to stop breaches of copyright, we have made the decision to ensure all televisions at police sites are switched off until further notice.
“This decision has nothing to do with the World Cup.”
The PPL licenses recorded music for broadcast, online and public performances.
Nazneen Nawaz of the organisation said: “PPL issued proceedings for copyright infringement against Avon and Somerset Constabulary in 2013. As those proceedings are ongoing, it would not be appropriate for PPL to comment further.”