Friday, 11 January 2013

'Dogging' in Skegness

I blogged earlier in the week on a public meeting due to be held in the town following com,plaints about dogging.  The Skegness Standard has provided rather detailed follow-up coverage to the meeting.   According to the local paper, over 30 residents gathered at the meeting, and the paper seems to enjoy pushing a (sadly) typical moral panic angle to the story.  In the face of this the local Police issued a statement which I can only praise for the appropriate understanding and application of the law relating to public sex.  The statement should be used as a model for other forces.  According to the Standard, it stated:

“The issue of Public Sex Environments is certainly not a new one.

 “Individuals or groups of individuals from many cultures and genres use public spaces to meet and sometimes to engage in sexual activity.

 “This can sometimes be seen as outraging public decency but on many occasions vast sections of our communities do not even know it is happening.

 “There is a fine line when dealing with such situations, as for some this is an accepted practice with strict codes of conduct. The problems arise when individuals undertake such acts within the sight and hearing of others going about their daily business.

 “To this end the police deal with such locations with sensitivity and also in a staged, partnership approach. When reports of people becoming upset by public displays of sexual activity are received, it is normally the practice that police attendance is at a level that is proportionate to the complaints.

 “We endeavour to engage with ‘Sexual Health Outreach’ who attend such sites and offer advice and encourage such activity to be undertaken responsibly.

 “We would then move to a stage of education where Community policing teams would engage with people who use such sites whether they be individuals attending for sexual activities or those who use the locations for other purposes such as dog walking and provide advice regarding the upset such visible sexual activity is causing or to listen to those who wish to complain.

 “It is only when such activity becomes intolerable with lack of consideration for the wider community that proactive intervention must be considered with the issues of illumination, signage and environmental sculpture being considered.

 “All of the above considered this does not mean that the police will not deal robustly with anyone who causes harassment, alarm or distress or who blatantly commits offences in these locations within the sight and hearing of the public.”

Community Policing Team Inspector, Terry Ball should be praised for his approach to the complaint.  Particularly in light of the earlier report on the meeting which seemed to link 'dogging' (still not defined in the Skegness situation) with paedophilia.

The paper reported that: 'One person present wrote: “A man was chatting to my young son and niece through my hedge inviting them to a ‘party in the woods’.'  Hang on, wrote?  Is this a typo or is this an individual writing a rather odd remark whilst others orally presented their arguments?  How is this in any way linked to dogging or public sex?

Beyond that, we have a report of men being seen in the wood (but no indication of what they are doing, or whether anything which might constitute public indecency occurred (and the fact they make reference to it happening in July suggests they've had a quiet time since).  Someone else apparently noted that it had been going on for forty years, which illustrates both the age of the speaker and the remarkable ability of Skegness to have survived this moral outrage for at least four decades.

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