NAG activists meet twice a year to discuss our projects and over the weekend 14th/15th September 2013, we held our autumn meeting on the Isle of Wight. Apart from Duncan Heenan, Peter Knight, John Paine, Harvey Allen and myself, we also invited two others to provide some outside input: Sam Hawcroft, editor of H&E Naturist and Tim Forcer, naturist and academic.
The range of topics covered was wide and what is present here is a snapshot of the discussion that took place.
Government and Law Enforcement Agencies
Duncan told the meeting that he was making good progress in completing his report to be sent to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Ministry of Justice among others and on schedule to have the first draft completed by the end of 2013. Just before the meeting however, the CPS (Crown Prosecuting Service) released guidance notes to prosecuting lawyers on how naturists, arrested for being naked in a public place, should be treated and this was still being studied at the time.
Post meeting: Duncan discussed the implications of the guidance notes with Malcolm Boura – Research and Liaison Officer (RLO) for BN – and they concluded that a change to their strategy and report will be necessary and as a consequence, it will have a minor impact on their schedule.
British Naturism leads the campaign for the restoration of Holkham Beach to naturist use, but regular user and committee member Andy Crawford (not in attendance), has also campaigned on his own account. He informed the committee (by email) that a meeting with Holkham Estate’s management has been arranged by BN but saw no prospect of the ban being overturned. His dealings with the Norfolk PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) also suggested that he supported the police’s actions in supporting the ban.
Post meeting: Malcolm Boura announced through Naturist Freedom that The Crown Estate has backed down following a strongly worded legal argument prepared by David Wolfe QC and they have lifted the ban on naturists using Holkham Beach below the Mean High Water mark. The ban on naturism above it is still in place.
The London Question
Following the aborted “Picnic in the Park”, designed to demonstrate that naturists and other park users could co-exist side-by-side, committee members John Paine (TLQ project leader), Harvey Allen and Duncan Heenan met with senior management figures from the City of London Corporation. Although they were unable to persuade them to allow naturism on Hampstead Heath and other large open spaces under their control, the TLQ delegation obtained a clearer understanding of The Corporation’s concerns and their wish to discourage behaviours they did not want to be associated with (e.g. dogging). They believe naturism would encourage them.
At a following TLQ meeting it was decided to wind down the project, believing it has taken naturism in London as far as it can. In its place the Hampstead Heath Naturist Project Group has been created. While NAG does not want the whole focus to be on Hampstead Heath, it is our belief that there is greater potential for success with Hampstead Heath than in other areas. Based on the Beach User Group concept it will allow naturists in the area to engage more easily with The Corporation and other stakeholders concerned with the heath and its local environment. They have already held two meetings to devise a strategy and if you would like to show your support, or give a hand, please email John Paine via the website.
Help from Supporters
At the autumn 2012 meeting, a number of initiatives that would allow greater participation by our supporters without them making an open ended commitment was considered. A year later, these were re-considered and here are four suggestions that will take no more than 30-minutes of your time, as and when they occur:
- Cuttings from the local press are a good source of information. If you see an article that would be of interest, why not scan it and email it to nag AT naturistactiongroup DOT org, or if you prefer, cut it out and send it to our postal address. (Don’t forget to tell us the name of the newspaper and the date of publication, along with your own name and contact details, which will not be passed on to anyone else.)
- Write a letter to the editor or comment on a newspaper’s website in response to an article. A letter (or email) is still an effective way to get your opinion across, which may gain more support locally than you’d think. To be published, you must include your name and address, which can be withheld if requested, and a contact number. Writing a comment on their web page is even simpler and quicker.
- Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests are made to public bodies (e.g. police services) and can be made in writing by any member of the public (letter or email) asking specific information. For example, as Holkham Beach is private property the police cannot act without the estate’s management’s permission, which has is a cost to the public purse. Therefore, a member of the public is entitled ask how much this support is costing Norfolk Police. Similar FOI requests can be made to other police services and public bodies, whose actions have an adverse effect on naturists.
- The Forestry Commission (for England and Scotland) and Natural Resources Wales are encouraging greater public use for their woodlands through tourism and leisure activity ideas. There is potential for some of these activities to be carried out naked but suitable sites and activities need to be identified and the initial enquires made. These public bodies are not the only owners of woodland however, and farmers and landowners may also be willing to consider an approach to make better use of an asset that may not be fully utilised.
Afterwards, please tell us about what you did and of any outcomes, not forgetting to include your name and contact details to nag AT naturistactiongroup DOT org.
The accounts for NAG have already been published on the website and shows a steady recovery for our funds from a low in 2011, when we published the leaflet “You and the Law”. What does not appear in these accounts at present, and will do so in the future, are the contributions in kind made largely by the committee members who pay their own expenses for travelling to the bi-annual meetings and on occasion, accommodation. Nor do these figures take into account a very generous gift of £200 made by an anonymous donor after these accounts were compiled. Thank you, whoever you are.
In an effort to raise funds so NAG can campaign for naturism and promote it, and raise its profile among naturists, the group launched a photo competition with the support of Astbury Formentera and H&E Naturist, in June 2013, with the result published in the January 2014 issue of H&E Naturist.