by John Paine (posted by Reg Barlow)
How valid is the argument that casual open space naturism is harmful and causes distress to others? The police and other authorities often use it when taking, often highly publicised action against naturists, usually lone males. This line is stated without substantiation by some with zealous religious views, though not by members of the Christian Naturist Fellowship, while people with bigoted and prejudiced views sometimes use similar statements.
Lots of naturists enjoy open space naturism at many places in the UK, when the weather allows. As naturists we know that only in a few extreme cases does public nakedness offend some people, yet we do not have the evidence to prove this as a fact. All is about to change, through a new Naturist Action Group (NAG) project on collecting data, by using a Casual Naturism Report form, with your help.
Yes, I know that there are now many WNBR rides in the UK where nudity on town and city streets does not offend ordinary citizens. It is the WNBR movement itself which introduced the concept ‘bare as you dare’ to their campaign, to highlight the unprotected nature of cyclists on our crowded roads. They allied this with an oil-dependency protest. In a symbiotic relationship thousands of naturists have flocked to support that twin cause. In doing so many, particularly young, people have embraced public nudity through the WNBR. Together they have delighted tens of thousands of onlookers along the WNBR routes. Significantly, no serious legal challenge has been mounted against nudity in any WNBR ride that has taken place in the UK to date.
While mass nudity in public is one thing there have also been countless occasions when naturists have enjoyed open space nudity in a discreet way. This continues on countryside and coastal public footpaths, in fields and moorlands, on beaches which may not be ‘official’ naturist beaches. And of course some naturists are lucky enough to be able to do so in their own gardens. Yet we have seen many cases of legal action, initiated by people with a bigoted view towards the naked body and the personal freedom of others.
In some cases a successful naturist challenge has been that the ‘legal evidence’ of what actually happened was flawed. However, the naturist movement has appeared unable, up to now, to counter the fallacy that a naked human body is inherently a distressing sight. With your help NAG wants to collect evidence to disprove the fallacy.
NAG exists to promote naturism and to educate people about it. NAG is running various campaigns to influence people in authority to accept the validity of naturism, details are on the NAG website naturistactiongroup.org. The influential people to be convinced include managers of public open space, such as Hampstead Heath, and senior police officers. In late 2014 NAG was, jointly with BN, in discussion with the top body The College of Policing. That discussion focuses on developing new practise guidelines for Chief Constables and senior police officers.
In 2013, alarmed at the policing and legal resources being consumed by prosecuting naturists, the government law body The Crown Prosecution Service issued new guidelines on when and how to take legal action in cases involving public nudity. NAG was, and is, a contributor to that debate.
NAG has identified the need for a database of factual evidence. What happens when naturists take their clothes off in open spaces? We know from naturists’ anecdotal comments that quite often no member of the public observes their action. If members of the public do come across naturists then most appear to accept the non-threatening nudity, and pass on by. Some people do comment by indicating their acceptance of the matter. We are told that only very occasionally are negative remarks indicating concern made.
So how can ordinary naturists significantly help the cause? This response, positive or negative, has never been collected in a systematic way. NAG has now started a Casual Naturism Report process, to develop this much-needed database. The database analysis will then be used to assist in discussions with various authorities. Here is how you can help.
As a naturist you may have been involved in open space activity, either alone or with other naturists. By taking just a few minutes to complete the NAG Casual Naturism Report form you will be helping the naturist cause in the UK. The details you give may relate to an occasion which has happened some while ago, more recently, or has yet to occur. Two versions of the form can be downloaded from the NAG website naturistactiongroup.org.
Your comments can be filled in electronically on a MS Word document and emailed to NAG. Alternatively a PDF version can be printed off, to fill in by hand and then mail to the address give here. Should you need to have a Casual Naturism Report form posted to you instead please send an SAE to: NAG SURVEY, Flat 19 Charles Ponsonby House, Osberton Road, OXFORD OX2 7PQ.
The more comprehensive your answers are the more helpful your report will be. NAG will maintain strict confidentiality when you provide your comments. Each completed form will add valuable information to the database – every little helps as they say. We welcome your contribution, as it really could make a difference.
Whilst NAG will maintain confidentiality of the sources we plan to publish periodic updates on the progress of the Casual Naturism Report process. You may be aware that NAG works with other naturist bodies and with individual naturists. The analysis of the data we collect will be available, in the right circumstances, to others in the UK naturist movement.