The Public Nudity Advice and Decision-making Aid from the College of Policing has come some years after the CPS published its own guidance: Nudity in Public, guidance on handling cases of naturism, even so NAG’s Treasurer Duncan Heenan said: ‘It is a welcome addition and should greatly help with educating frontline police officers.’
In the briefing note, officers are told that naturism is ‘a philosophical belief’ and ‘naturists have a right to freedom of expression, which only engages [the] criminal law if they commit sexual offences or use disorderly behaviour’ and they ‘should consider every situation according to its own circumstances’.
While it explained the wide variety of public spaces used by naturists, it went on to state: ‘There is no legal power to designate particular areas or otherwise.’ Therefore, regardless of a beach being deemed for naturist use by the local council or through custom and practice, it would be unwise to rely on such status as a safeguard. A police officer is duty bound to arrest any persons they believed to have committed an offence.
Incidents involving naturists and the police are thankfully rarer than some might think but they are very distressing all the same. The Briefing Note is the culmination of a campaign that began in 2008 and many thanks should go to Brian Johnston and Duncan Heenan for their persistence, and in its early stages, to Malcolm Boura then R&LO (later Campaigns Director) for British Naturism. Peter and Christine Wright, who took over as BN’s primary contact with the College of Policing from Malcolm, gave further input for the briefing note.
‘It is good to see some solid success as a result of long term campaigning,’ added Duncan, ‘which NAG laid the foundations for.’
However, dispelling the old myth that “nudity in public is illegal” among the British public is still a big task and requires co-operation between naturist organisations and naturists themselves.
10th June 2018