For over 2 years NAG has been leading a joint project with BN to address the issue of how the police and Courts deal with naturism. As part of this, we have produced the following report of our survey on the adoption of the new CPS guidelines. This report has now been sent to the Association of Chief Police Officers, The Association of Police & Crime Commissioners, The College of Policing, and the Director of Public Prosecutions (head of the CPS). We have asked for a meeting to discuss our findings. This project will continue by cooperative consultation, and when there are any significant developments they will be reported here.
Apologies for any loss of formatting of the report in posting it here
Joint report on the study of the uptake of Crown Prosecution Service Guidance ‘Nudity in Public –
Guidance on handling cases of Naturism ’[September 2013], by Police Authorities in England & Wales.
- Police & Crime Commissioners do not consider consider ensuring consistent and accurate application of the law in this respect, to be their ‘business’.
- Police & Crime Commissioners do not consider saving money by avoiding mistakes to be their ‘business’.
- Inconsistent responses and intentions from Police Forces.
- Low priority given to inclusion of CPS Guidelines in Police training
- Slow and patchy uptake of the ‘new approach’ generally.
- Little acknowledgement for the need for change within Police Forces, despite the CPS Guidelines.
Background & Reason for the study
There has been increasing concern within the naturist community in recent years, at the attention naturism has occasionally attracted by the police. Though there have been many instances of police reacting proportionately and appropriately to reports of nudity in public places, there have also been incidents, sometimes resulting in prosecutions. As a result we began to gather data on these incidents with a view to approaching the Authorities to seek a fairer and more consistent application of the Law to naturism than we felt had been happening. Personal views of police and judges seemed to be driving events too much, often with little reference to any actual harm done (of which there was none in any incident studied). There seemed to be an informal institutional prudery in police and courts alike, which led to a disproportionate reaction to any incident involving nudity in public, or even some private, places. This caused great distress to those who were subject to heavy handed policing, wasted public resources, and did not serve the public interest. Of those cases taken to Court, the majority resulted in acquittals.
In September 2013, as our study period was approaching its conclusion and a submission to the Authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service published ‘Nudity in Public – Guidance on handling cases of Naturism.’ (Shown in Appendix 1) Effectively this acknowledged that the CPS shared some of our concerns, particularly in the use of Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 by police, to try to criminalise non-aggressive, non-sexual nudity. The CPS guidance addressed some (though not all) of our concerns, but it contained no mechanism within it to ensure that its guidance filtered down to police officers who have to make initial operational decisions. We therefore decided to contact every Police Authority in England & Wales to draw their attention to the CPS Guidance, express our views and ask them what plans they had to train their police officers in it. This report summarised the results of that exercise.
On 20th November 2013, letters (shown at appendix 2) were sent to all 42 Police forces, plus the Association of Chief Police Officers (‘ACPO’) and the College of Policing. The same letter was also sent to all 42 Police & Crime Commissioners, plus the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners (‘APCCs’). Responses were received by letter, email and telephone over the succeeding 12 weeks. The responses are summarised and tabulated below. A number of acknowledgements were received but never followed up with a response, and a number of Police Forces and PCCs did not respond at all (as marked).
The results are summarised in the table below. Copies of all responses and other correspondence are available to authorised users on https://www.bn.org.uk/campaigning/wiki.php/_/policing/general-policy-and-training-r35 .
Of the 42 PCCs contacted 4 acknowledged receipt, but did not reply. In addition 25 did not respond at all, making a total of 29 who did not reply.
Of the 13 PCCs who replied, all considered the CPS’s Guidance on Nudity in Public, and any police responses, to be an operational police matter, and made no meaningful comment beyond that. The Association of PCC’s made the same remark, commenting also that national guidance on police training is the responsibility of the College of Policing, suggesting we contact them (which we already had). Only the PCC for West Yorkshire commented on the uptake of the CPS Guidelines within that police service, saying that it was to be incorporated within their training programme and published internally. West Yorkshire Police themselves did not respond.
Of the 42 Police Forces contacted, 6 acknowledged receipt, but did not reply. In addition 16 did not respond at all, making a total of 22 who did not reply (though this number includes West Yorkshire for whom their PCC made a reply).
Of the 20 Police Forces which replied 19 had no stated policy on dealing with incidents of public nudity, other than trusting the local officer to exercise jusgment of the actual situation. One (Cheshire) has a policy which is consistent with the new CPS Guidelines.
The replies from some police forces were phrased in very general terms, and therefore it was not always clear what was meant. In categorising the replies below, an element of judgment had to be used, as there was overlap of intent as well as uncertainty in some cases.
Of the 20 forces which responded (21 including W. Yorkshire whose PCC responded for them), 5 forces had no plans to include any specific training for front line officers to do with the CPS Guidelines. 8 were planning to publish the guidelines on websites or internal bulletin boards, but with no further training. 4 forces were intending to approach the issue by briefing specialist officers such as Diversity Officers or Custody Sergeants as internal ‘consultants’ to provide advice to operational officers involved in issues to do with public nudity. 4 Forces had undertaken, or were considering including specific training to all officers. 5 of the responses included comments suggesting a presumption that public nudity was likely to be a public order issue. 3 forces commented that public nudity incidents were not considered a current or past issue in their area, as there were few, if any, such incidents.
The College of Policing and ACPO did not respond at all.
Police & Crime Commissioners Survey, summary of responses
Policy on Nudity
Training re. CPS guidance
|Avon & SomersetIndependent||No response||No response|
|BedfordshireLabour||6/12/13||Police Operational Matter||Police Operational Matter|
|CambridgeshireConservative||5/12/13||Police operational matter||Police operational matter|
|CheshireConservative||25/11/13||Police operational matter||Police operational matter|
|City of LondonConservative||No response||No response|
|ClevelandLabour||No response||No response|
|DerbyshireLabour||No response||No response|
|Devon and CornwallConservative||5/12/13||Police Operational Matter||Police Operational Matter|
|DorsetIndependent||4/12/13||Police Operational Matter||Police Operational Matter|
|DurhamLabour||5/12/13||Police Operational Matter||Police Operational Matter|
|Dyfed PowysConservative||No response||No response|
|EssexConservative||27/11/13||No response||No response|
|GloucestershireIndependent||No response||No response|
|Greater ManchesterLabour||No response||No response|
|GwentIndependent||No response||No response|
|Hampshire &IOWIndependent||No response||No response|
|HertfordshireConservative||No response||No response|
|HumbersideConservative||No response||No response|
|KentIndependent||16/12/13||No comment||No comment|
|LancashireLabour||2/12/13||No response||No response|
|LeicestershireConservative||No response||No response|
|LincolnshireIndependent||19/12/13||Police Operational Matter||Police Operational Matter|
|MerseysideLabour||No response||No response|
|MetropolitanConservative||10/12/13||Police Operational Matter||Police Operational Matter|
|NorfolkIndependent||No response||No response|
|NorthamptonConservative||No response||No response|
|NorthumbriaLabour||12/12/13||Police Operational Matter||Police Operational Matter|
|North YorkshireConservative||No response||No response|
|North WalesIndependent||No response||No response|
|NottinghamshireLabour||No response||No response|
|South WalesLabour||No response||No response|
|South YorkshireLabour||No response||No response|
|StaffordshireConservative||25/11/13||No response||No response|
|SuffolkConservative||No response||No response|
|SurreyIndependent||No response||No response|
|SussexConservative||12/12/13||Police operational matter||Police operational matter|
|Thames ValleyConservative||No response||No response|
|WarwickshireIndependent||9/12/13||No response||No response|
|West MerciaIndependent||No response||No response|
|West MidlandsLabour||27/11/13||31/1/13||Police operational matter||Police operational matter.|
|West YorkshireLabour||27/11/13||17/1/14||Police operational matter||W.Yorks police are developing a training programme which will incorporate CPS guidelines. Also published internally.|
|WiltshireConservative||No response||No response|
|Association of P.C.C.s||26/11/13||Police operational matter||College of Policing sets national training standards. Decision should lie with them.|
Police Authority Chief