Campaign update – 21st November 2014
This is a brief update on the campaign that NAG and BN have been running jointly for about 4 years, which started with concern over the way the police and Courts viewed nudity as if it were unquestionably illegal, which it rarely is. This lead to our receiving reports, attending Court, assisting the accused and tracking the outcomes. As we were preparing our submission to The Authorities, the project was changed by the Crown Prosecution Service’s publication of its ‘Guidance on handling cases of Naturism’. The CPS guidance was prompted, at least in part, by the letters from NAG, BN and individuals. Though not perfect, this sought to address many of our concerns. It was therefore decided to alter the focus of our efforts on to trying to ensure that the front line police officers understood the CPS’s guidance. A survey of every Police Authority, and every Police & Crime Commissioner in England & Wales followed. Special thanks to Brian Johnson for his help with this. The survey was poorly responded to, despite follow-ups, but it disclosed that most Authorities had no plans for training in this area, and the few that did were unconvincing and inconsistent. So we sought to find out who could influence this, in order that we could have a dialogue with them. It emerged that police national training standards and syllabus is set by The College of Policing.
This whole process was long drawn out and frustrating and in part this was due to the police itself undergoing a significant reorganisation during this time. The former National Police Improvement Agency was being run down and replaced by The College of Policing (CoP), but the manning up of the CoP took time, and for a considerable time we simply could not find the right people to talk to. However a couple of months ago, a senior official at the CoP agreed to meet us to hear what we had to say. Malcolm Boura met him (as I was unavailable to join them), and had a very useful and cooperative conversation. However, circumstances limited actual progress at that time, as he was about to move on within the organisation, and responsibility for Public Order Policing was about to change again. However, he undertook to pass the matter on properly to his successor, which he did, resulting in a meeting between Malcolm, me and the new portfolio holder on November 14th.
We were very encouraged by the reception our concerns received and by the high degree of understanding we were met with. It is not appropriate to go in to details at this stage, as this could be counter-productive, but we came away with a mutually agreed strategy to carry our dialogue forward in a constructive and structured way. The timing, for once, assists us now as the CPS Guidelines are up for review and re-integration into syllabi, as a result of recent changes in related legislation. It is not possible, or sensible, to predict the detailed outcomes of this process now, but we have real grounds for optimism that, in time, matters will be improved for genuine naturists, without compromising the police’s ability to deal with those who abuse the term ‘Naturist’ to cover more nefarious activity.
This whole saga illustrates that campaigning is not a quick, easy or cheap process. It needs resources, tenacity, patience and structure. But it can succeed, and it is much more likely to if it is approached positively and constructively rather than negatively and confrontationally.
This campaign will continue until we are satisfied that we have achieved all that is possible for Naturism in this respect. Details may in time emerge, but have to be treated in confidence for the time being in order not to compromise the process. When there are any significant developments we will try to keep you informed, but please don’t mistake silence for inactivity.
In the meantime we need your help. To carry our discussions forward we need examples of good policing of incidents involving nudity in public places. So if you have had an experience where you felt the police acted appropriately and proportionately (this might include doing nothing at all) in relation to something involving nudity in a public place, can you please get in touch and tell us about it. We will not use your name without your consent. If you know of anything which you think may be of relevance, please contact Duncan Heenan by email on: Duncan.Heenan@naturistactiongroup.org, by Personal Message via the BN website, or write to him at Dolphins House, Boxers Lane, Niton, Isle of Wight, PO38 2BH.
Duncan Heenan 21.11.14