Police have said a ‘fine line’ needs to be trod when dealing with the issue of public sex acts at a dogging hotspot, but stressed that this does not mean the force will not ‘deal robustly’ with anyone causing alarm or distress.
Community Policing Team Inspector, Terry Ball, made the comments after concerns were raised about public sex acts in the dunes around Seacroft Marsh.
Over 30 residents of the Seacroft area gathered at a public meeting on Tuesday to call for action over the dogging hotspot.
Tales aired by residents on the evening included one where a resident claimed that “a man was chatting to my young son and niece through my hedge inviting them to a ‘party in the woods”.
Another resident said: “The men haven’t even got the brains to try to hide away further in the bushes! And this is happening in the middle of a Friday afternoon in July”.
In a statement released in the wake of the meeting Inspector Ball said: “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.”