If you’re at work, you almost certainly missed this but the new head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire that the public should not expect to see an officer after their home gets burgled.
The interview with Sara Thornton, who took up her new post as the head on the NCCP in April when it took over from ACPO, has been widely reported, including The Times, but as that paper has a pay wall I’ve included a link as to how the BBC itself reported the interview.
Essentially, with budget cuts and fewer officers, the police have to prioritise with sexual offences, concerns over terrorism and cyber crime being given a higher priority than car crime or burglary.
In response to The Times article, colleague Duncan Heenan dashed off a letter the same day:
If Sara Thornton (Times 29/7/15) does not want the police to waste their time responding to unimportant matters, she needs to start by pointing them at the CPS Guideline on handling incidents involving Naturism, which points out that, unless some criminal act is involved, non-sexual nudity in public is not illegal. This message has still not been understood by most front line officers, who will rush around at the mention of a peacefully naked person as if a murder was in progress.
In line with a recently introduced policy, we have now updated our website with the minutes taken at our meeting held on 9th May 2015 for you to view.
The management team for NAG has met twice a year, for every year it has been in existence. At our last meeting, it was decided that we should begin to make them available to our supporters. So, under the Downloads tab you will find the first of our published minutes from Autumn 2014.
We shall aim to publish the minutes within six weeks of the meeting in the future, but as volunteers I hope you’ll understand we might not meet this deadline every time.
You may like to help promote NAG at any naturist activities you will be undertaking this summer. We have created a new A5 NAG leaflet to hand out in a PDF format to print two on an A4 sheet, or please look under the ‘Downloads’ tab. We also have plenty printed, along with the NAG business card, and should you need to have some sent to you please give me a postal address for you to receive them. Email me the details at firstname.lastname@example.org
I will normally send out, on request, 20 leaflets + 20 business cards. If you need a larger quantity please let me know!For those of you meeting with us at Spielplatz on Saturday 23 May, or Abbey House Gardens on Sunday 24 May, I can pass them to you then. We will also have them in London for the 13 June WNBR.
John Paine, NAG management group
An urgent message from Gypsy Taub that will appeal most to our US friends:
Dear Body Freedom Supporters,
We urgently need your help to pay our monthly payments to our lawyers. We haven’t paid for March yet and I only got $175 from three people. (Thank you so much for those generous donations.) But we need $500 per month and still need to pay for April.
Please PayPal donations to email@example.com or email me for other methods of donating. Even the smallest donation makes a big difference.
Here is an update about our federal lawsuit:
You may recall that earlier U.S. District Judge Chen dismissed many of the claims we brought in the nudity litigation, including a claim for injunctive relief. This means that even if we were to win on the remaining claim, the Court would not order the SFPD to act any differently than they have been.
We, and our attorneys, feel it is important to appeal the Court’s dismissal of our claims since our ultimate goal is to obtain an order that would prohibit the City of San Francisco from arresting people engaged in nude protests – activity that we believe is protected speech under the First Amendment. In order to speed up the process of appealing the Court’s dismissal of our First Amendment claims, we elected to settle the one remaining claim for discriminatory enforcement.
Once finalized, the proceeds from the settlement will go towards paying a small part of our legal bill, which is currently over $100,000. Once the settlement is finalized our attorneys will begin work on the appeal so that we might ultimately obtain an order preventing the City from arresting people who are exercising their
As hard as it might be to believe, but NAG is five-years-old this year and we thought it was about time we published a report detailing our progress so far. Our aim is to make this an annual event from now on, so we present to you, our first Annual Report 2015. You may also find it under the ‘Downloads’ tab.
Chairman, Naturist Action Group.
PS A word to the wise. There are a couple of deliberately blank pages for production (presentation) purposes. Please ensure you allow the entire document to download before you start scrolling down.
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
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
It is sad when a couple breaks up acrimoniously, often with many hurtful things said by both parties. As if that is not bad enough, some resort to what has been termed ‘revenge porn’ where pictures and video taken during the couples most intimate moments end up on social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.
Everyone can sympathise with the victims and the Government has tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill that will make this kind of behaviour punishable with up to two years in prison. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling told BBC News (13/10/2014): “We want those who fall victim to this type of disgusting behaviour to know that we are on their side.”
Nicky Morgan, Minister for Women added: “Circulating intimate photos of an individual without their consent is never acceptable.”
Even the New Statesman (15/10/2014) has come out in favour of creating a specific offence to curb the incidences of revenge porn, simply because existing laws do not adequately target this type of behaviour. It disagreed, however, with the term ‘revenge porn’ or pornography stating that the use of the word “revenge” narrows the offence unnecessarily, while the use of “porn” or “pornography’ ‘…somehow seeks to legitimise what is an awful ordeal for someone to go through….’
However, not everyone is so supportive of the amendments as naturist writer, Rayner Otter explained to The Telegraph (15/10/2014) the kind of photographs naturists tend to take of their family and friends at the beach, club or in a private garden could be grouped into the same category. While Fiona Ashley, contributor to H&E said: ‘Revenge porn is clearly abhorrent. I also find it equally abhorrent that images of naturists are classed as pornography in this poorly conceived Bill.’
The Bill classifies revenge porn as ‘photographs or films, which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public.’
The way the amendment has been worded it implies that the mere inclusion of genitalia in a picture or film (video) could see that image being deemed pornographic. That could see films like ‘The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover’ already given an 18 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification and ‘Walkabout’ (12) being re-classified as pornographic and unlikely to be seen on British television because of the inclusion of simple, non-sexual nudity. The current BBFC guidelines says that:
‘Nudity with no sexual context is in principle acceptable at all classification levels, but will not generally occur more than occasionally at U.
Nudity with a sexual context will receive a higher classification. Strong detail in such a context will usually only be passed at the adult categories (18 or R18).’
(bbfc guidelines 2014: age ratings you trust, p6)
It also states when giving a definition to their U rating:
‘A U film should be suitable for audiences aged four years and over, although it is impossible to predict what might upset any particular child. U films should be set within a positive framework and should offer reassuring counterbalances to any violence, threat or horror.’
(bbfc guidelines 2014: age ratings you trust, p15)
We have seen lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service using legislation intended for one purpose to deal with a completely different ‘problem’. For example, using the Public Order Act – designed to curb violent strikers – against naturists. It is therefore no stretch of the imagination to see the prosecuting barristers using the provision in this Bill, designed to prevent the malicious publication of intimate images taken in private as an act of revenge, as another device to restrict the legitimate activities of naturists who go out to public places.
In a letter dated 14th October 2014 to Dr Hywel Francis MP, chairman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Lord Faulks QC said ‘…a photograph or film is private if it shows something of a kind not ordinarily seen in public… or if it shows a person’s genitals.’ The amendment is supposed to capture and prevent the malicious publication of material of an intimate or sexual nature between couples that was produced with the consent of those involved, but with that consent now withdrawn because they are no longer in a relationship. While I think Lord Faulks’ explanation to the Joint Committee on Human Rights captures that intent, I don’t think that has been captured in how the amendment has been drafted. It has been written in sloppy, clumsy English that allows other interpretations and to broaden the scope beyond its original purpose.
At the time of writing, the Bill is at the report stage in the House of Lords and will be debated again during its third reading, but prior to receiving Royal Assent, the Bill will need to return briefly to the House of Commons to agree the amendments added in October. Although Rayner Otter has now written to the Minister of Justice, Chris Grayling MP, asking for the definition between what naturists and pornographers do to be made more distinct, sadly I believe we have acted too late to affect any change in how the amendment has been written and naturists will have to suffer the consequences.
In a factsheet prepared by the Ministry of Justice on the amendments, it said that ‘The Government has looked carefully at the concerns raised by campaigners and Parliamentarians about the uploading or sharing of revenge pornography.’ [My emphasis] While I can sympathises with the victims of revenge pornography and accept that the campaigners were right to seek a change in the law as it stands, this episode shows that the naturist community needs to be vigilant about any change to statutory regulation that may affect our lifestyle.
Love them or loath them, we must engage fully with politicians at all levels and not just at election time or when something like this amendment has been added to a Bill that works to our detriment. We must reach out to the political parties, their members and activists, and educate them in what is after all just a lifestyle like any other. But the few activists we already have in the Naturist Action Group cannot do this alone; we need others to help us, to keep watch and help encourage others to contact those in positions of influence when necessary. As the saying goes, “many hands makes light work” so the more the merrier, enabling everyone to participate.
Police Sergeant turned stand-up comic Alfie Moore is a funny man, his short series on BBC Radio 4 is a testament to that, but like all comedians he also has his serious side. For The Independent (25/07/2014) Moore wrote an article about how he thought the politicians, the criminal justice system and, most importantly, the public did not take indecent exposure seriously enough.
Until the Sexual Offences Act 2003, what the police and the courts had to work with was the Vagrancy Act 1824, something introduced to stop ex-soldiers begging in the streets after the defeat of Napoleon. What SOA allowed the police officer to do was exchange the word ‘penis’ for ‘person’ in statements and the men – of course it had to be men – exposing themselves would no longer be ‘deemed a rogue and vagabond’. This is a fair point. Who, today, has heard that kind of language being spoken, let alone know what it means.
Moore quoted Jane Warding-Smith, a psychosexual consultant specialising in sex addiction, who explained that her most common client group were men (again its men) who drove around in their cars, naked. It isn’t the idea of being seen that excites them, its getting caught, explained Warding-Smith. Similarly, the flasher who masturbates in public is primarily seeking sexual gratification by shocking people. What they are seeking is a hit of dopamine – the ‘feel-good’ chemical produced by the brain – and their behaviour is very similar to a heroin or cocaine addict so like them, if they fail to get the expected reaction, the ‘addict’ is compelled to increase the risk level. This may lead to antisocial behaviour like dogging, or Moore contends, to more serious sexual offences and assault. Not that Moore was suggesting that he thought the flasher masturbating in public isn’t serious enough, but his complaint was that the public didn’t. Or, at least, didn’t seem to with the victim frequently not reporting the incident, even if they have been seriously effected, possibly just laughing it off. His point was that if the police could establish this progression from the less serious to the most serious sexual offences then they and the courts could deal with them properly, early on in their careers – so to speak – and impose treatment orders on them, which have proven to be an effective alternative to custody.
So far, so good, you might say. But Moore’s article came out just days before the Edinburgh Festivals and the launch of his new show, The Naked Stun, and probably the real reason for the article’s production, and just a day after the PSNI threatened to arrest people and add their names to the sexual offences register for skinny dipping during the July heatwave (Irish Mirror, 24/07/2014). So are Moore’s views typical or untypical of the beat bobby?
I do not believe that anyone would object to the main issue highlighted by Moore, in that those committing a sexual offence should be caught and properly dealt with. Although, both NAG and British Naturism have heard plenty of examples of naturists being reported to police by a member of the public who mistake what they have seen for a crime. These range from those working in their own garden to walking the countryside, but like any other incident reported to them, the poor frontline police officer must then decide whether or not they think it is a crime too. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I believe Moore tried to distinguish between someone just being naked in a public place from someone out to get his fix of dopamine by emphasising the sexual element. Unfortunately, not every police officer is like Moore, for despite the CPS guidelines that the intention to cause alarm and/or distress should be present naturists are still being threatened with arrest and informed that their names could be placed on the sexual offences register, even if there is no evidence of intent.
After the Northern Ireland incident, the PSNI took to social media to try and get across to people the potential consequences of similar behaviour and in response many people were not slow in saying that they thought the Police Service of Northern Ireland had grossly over reacted (The Telegraph 30/07/14). One Northern Irish poster wrote, “The last time I seen any skinny dippers was when I was six years of age. Funny enough it was 12 off duty police officers all drunk at a party at a caravan”. Regrettably the poster did not say how long ago this was but the point was made I think. Martin Metcalfe, another poster said: “PSNI attitudes to nudity are clearly medieval. Nudity does not harm anyone, especially children who are natural nudists. To claim nudity is sexual is to make every shower or bath you have a sexual act.”
When Moore’s article was published naturists naturally used social media to comment on it many of whom looked upon it with dismay. I prefer to see it as a positive thing. If an officer with Moore’s experience can distinguish between naturists and sex offenders, even if it is only in word rather than deed then perhaps the justice system is not above changing its stance towards naturism, in all parts of the British Isles.
As Moore wrote: “No-one in the history of the world has ever accidentally masturbated in public.” It is therefore possible to distinguish between sex offenders and naturists out enjoying the sun and air, and police officers must be taught that difference. The College of Policing is in the process of redefining itself and both NAG and British Naturism is attempting to influence that change by participating in the consultation process. If successful then indirectly we shall be influencing the senior police officers of the future, including chief