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Policing of Public Sexual Activity guidelines

Posted on 10th July 2017 by The Brunswick Centre

Updated guidelines by West Yorkshire Police around how they should Police sites where sexual activity takes place.

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Policing of Public Sexual Activity
Contents
Policy Statement ......................................................................................................................... 2
Principles ..................................................................................................................................... 2
Operational Response – Staged Approach .................................................................................. 3
Considerations ............................................................................................................................. 4
Additional Information ................................................................................................................ 5 NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED
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Policy Statement
Summary
West Yorkshire Police (WYP) complies with Authorised Professional Practice (APP) which contains information to assist policing. Along with this local policy, there are clear guidelines when dealing with incidents and complains about sexual activity in Public Sex Locations (PSLs).
It demonstrates a clear and transparent procedure for dealing with any person engaging in sexual activity in a public place who is above the age of legal consent and has consented to the activity. This policy also details the offences and how the three stage approach will be adopted.
This policy does not provide guidance for, commercial sexual activities that take place in public or private, or sexual offences that are not consensual. The policies regarding Adult prostitution and sexual exploitation or Child sexual exploitation must be referred to.
Scope
This policy applies to all police officers and special constables.
Principles
Definitions
• For the purpose of this policy, a Public Sex Location is any open space, public or private that is frequently used for the purpose of engaging in consensual same sex, and opposite sex, sexual activity.
• Public sex locations include car parks, country parks, lay-bys, night time economy venues, toilets, urban parks, etc.
• This is also including the practice of having sex in public toilets, known as ‘cottaging’. It is acknowledged that legislation (Section 71 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003) covers sexual activity in public toilets and there may be a need to enforce the law in public toilets as with sexual activity in an open space.
• Where hate crime is referred to in this guidance, it related to any hate incidence, which constitutes a criminal offence, perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate.
Stop and Search Account
• The fact that a person is in a known PSL does not, in itself, give grounds for:
o Stopping that person to ask them to account for themselves; or
o Asking them to leave under police authority.
• However, Section 50 of the Police Reform Act 2002 does give a power to require a name and address to an officer in uniform when an individual is reasonably believed to be involved in anti-social behaviour.
• The fact a user may have items that may be used during sexual activity in NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED
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their possession is not to be seen as empowering officers to question them further about their presence in a PSL.
• The possession of such items does not constitute a criminal offence, The ‘Right to Privacy’ means that any action by officers, including those which may follow, needs to be necessary, legitimate, and proportionate and intelligence led.
Offences
• It is a criminal offence for any person to have sex in a public toilet (Section 71, Sexual Offences Act 2003).
• Other offences, due to an individual’s behaviour in a PSL, that could be committed are:
o Outraging Public Decency contrary to Common Law;
o Behaviour that is likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress to other uses contrary to the provisions of the Public Order Act 1986; and
o Offences of voyeurism and exposure, that are within the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
• It is dependent on circumstances and if complaints have been made on an individual’s behaviour, but it is not against the law for people to:
o Loiter or walk around a PSL with the purpose of meeting others; or
o Engage in conversation or activity that does not contravene existing legislation.
Impact on Arrested Person
• An arrest in these circumstances can have an extreme impact on the person arrested. This can include humiliation, breakdown of relationships and the highlighting of men living in an opposite sex relationships being perceived as gay. Acts of suicide and self-harm can also occur.
• It is important for officers to be aware of this, to ensure they are mindful of the potential impact an arrest in these circumstances can have, when exercising the duty of care in respect of the people with whom they come in contact.
Operational Response – Staged Approach
Information
• It is recognised that occasions will arise where officers will witness sexual activity in a public place, or receive a complaint from a member of the public that such an activity is taking place or has taken place.
• Officers must assess the circumstances and determine if immediate action is required.
• If circumstances do not require immediate action, a three stage approach must be adopted.
o Stage 1 – Receipt of Complaint;
o Stage 2 – Scanning and Analysis; and
o Stage 3 - ‘5’ Stepped Response.
• This staged approach covers dealing with the initial complaint and NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED
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determining whether to proceed with any action; and if so to obtaining further information as to whether it’s an isolated incident or a wider community issue with the aid of community partners. To then following the ‘5’ stepped response on preventative measures, patrolling and enforcement action if deemed appropriate.
• The staged approach is outlined in further detailed within ‘supporting information’.
Considerations
Principles
• When developing any assessment under the support of the National Intelligence Model (NIM) or any NIM intelligence requirement PSLs must be considered by districts as a source of information particularly in relation to robbery. Also hate crime, as crimes within those environments will often be motivated by homophobia on the part of the perpetrator.
• It is recommended that if there is a PSL within the district then with key partners and users, a community consultation and engagement strategy should be developed to increase confidence and trust in the reporting of crime and intelligence, this is for all crimes as well as public sexual activity.
• In protecting Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) and audiences and communities, there should be no reference to the LGBT community and PSLs, unless essential for operational reasons. This is as police activity within PSLs can attract media attention that may have consequences for the community group, such as an increase in homophobia incidents and crime against people who are, or are perceived to be from an LGBT community.
• It is always recommended that suitable press releases are to be agreed with partners prior to any engagement activity so a clear and consistent response can be given to any enquiries.
• The reasoning behind the use of a PSL is important to consider when dealing with a public sexual activity incident. Social pressures can lead to individuals accepting risks to their personal safety and health to experience sexual activity. Therefore the welfare of the people involved is paramount and must be considered alongside the resolution to the complaint made.
• It is important to consider prior to action that if the response is proportionate and takes into account the specific circumstances of the PSL and the people involved. This is due to that an immediate enforcement from the police, the fear of criminalisation and highlighting their sexual orientation may be traumatic and lead to further consequences for those involved.
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Additional Information
Compliance
This policy complies with the following legislation and guidance:
•APP Investigation
•Sexual Offences Act 2003, Section 71
•Police Reform Act 2002, Section 50
•Public Order Act 1986
•Human Rights Act 1998, Part 1, Schedule 1, Article 8 and Article 11.
Supporting Information
The supporting information for this policy can be accessed via this link.
Policy Database Administration
Item
Details
Document title:
Policing of Public Sexual Activity
Owner:
Force Performance Improvement Unit
Author / Reviewer:
Date of last review:
29/09/2016
Date of next review:
29/09/2019
The Equality and Human Rights Assessment for this policy is held on Force Registry which can be accessed via this link.
The table below details revision information relating to this document:
Topic title
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