What is the law surrounding indecent exposure and how does this relate to naturism? It can be seen that naturism and indecent exposure COULD be linked but actually are not. In this post, we explore this topic.
I was recently chatting to a fellow naturist who had just been on a walk in the New Forest. Now usually there are no issues with this except on one particular day, he was returning to the car park and happened to pass a lady walking her dog. He recited the conversation for me as follows:-
HIM: Afternoon (with reassuring smile on his face and rucksack covering his nether regions)
HER: That’s illegal. That’s indecent exposure.
HIM: Actually, being nude in public is not illegal and it certainly is not indecent exposure.
At this point, he walked off and, glancing behind his back, saw she was doing something on her phone. Now, if she was calling the police, I hope the conversation went along the guidelines of what the College of Policing now advise their call handlers and officers and they also take into account the guidance set by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
To make a case for indecent exposure, out naturist friend would have to “expose his genitals with the intention of causing distress and alarm”. Note the word “intention”? As our friend actually “hid” his genitals, there was not intention to cause distress or alarm and thus no crime committed.
Unfortunately, some people (of the Victorian era) have either not been educated or simply are too prudish and won’t change their attitudes. This makes being a naturist in the UK that little bit more difficult and especially so if you’re a man (it is almost impossible for a woman to be convicted of indecent exposure) which is why I always provide the following advice.
If you are out walking nude and you see someone coming toward you, identify the risk. Is it a lone woman? A couple? A group of people? Are there children involved? And then think about how you would feel if you were in their place. My advice is firstly, do I need to cover up? If they’re a distance away, then why not? If you have been surprised by them (as in you turned a corner and they were there) then place something in front of your genitals. Always be polite and say “hello” and when they’re a safe distance away, continue your nude walk.
NEVER jump into bushes, run away, or do something that could be seen as meaning your intentions are potentially criminal. You are doing nothing wrong, nothing illegal but you are respecting other people and they may not like seeing nude people in the countryside. Hiding could construed that you are doing something wrong.
IF, in the highly unlikely event you do get arrested, get a solicitor. DO NOT say or do anything until you have legal representation. DO NOT agree to anything (especially accepting a caution) and always remember to keep calm.