FAQ: Naturism and Public Nudity

 Is it legal?

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 Extract Nudity in Public - Guidance on handling cases of Naturism...

CPS update its guidance on prosecuting naturists

Link Here 11th November 2013

Crown Prosecution Service The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has published Nudity in Public - Guidance on handling cases of Naturism . It is not perfect but it is an important step forwards and it should help considerably. We have written to the CPS several times regarding the muddled approach to Naturism and the frequent mistakes that have resulted, as have the Naturist Action Group and individuals. The guidance reflects many of the points that we made which is very gratifying. However, our requests for a meeting and/or discussion were ignored.

Please note that this document is comment and not legal advice. If you need legal advice then you should consult a lawyer.

Key points

  • " it will normally be appropriate to take no action unless members of the public were actually caused harassment, alarm or distress (as opposed to considering the likelihood of this) ". Our opinion is that alarm and distress cannot be taken, they must be caused. Was the cause the nudity or was the cause the complainants misapprehensions?

  • " at most amounting to an offence under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986; and regard needs to be had to the question of whether a prosecution is in the public interest. " Parliament made its opinion very clear during the debates on s.66 Sexual Offences Act 2003. Naturism is a legitimate activity that must be able to continue.

  • " [Consider] disorderly (rather than threatening, abusive or insulting) ." We do not accept that nudity is in itself disorderly.

  • " normal standards of society that require people to be clothed in public, 'disorderly' would appear to most aptly describe this behaviour ." NB they do not say that " disorderly " does apply. In our opinion nudity may be an aggravating factor for behaviour that is in itself disorderly but we do not accept that nudity is in itself " disorderly" .

  • S.66 Sexual Offences Act 2003, Outraging Public Decency, and Public Nuisance are not applicable.


1st March   

Naturism and Public Nudity...

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Is it legal?
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British Naturism logo First of all there is no such general offence as 'indecent exposure'.

There is an offence of 'Exposure' but the name is misleading. It is actually 'Aggressive Exposure'. It was very carefully worded so that it could not be applied to naturists. The important point is that there must be intent to cause fear, alarm or distress. The defining judgment states that 'outraging is a very strong word' and that the behaviour must go well beyond merely offensive. The offence must be in a public place but the definition of public place is rather technical.

There are no specific prohibitions of nudity. The Victorian statutes have all been repealed. Also the enabling power for councils to make bye laws regulating the decency of swim suits has been repealed to ... protect naturists from busy body ... councillors.

Public Order legislation is sometimes used against naturists. The old favourite of police and authorities when they want to make up the law as they go along is section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. But when the victim refuses to be bullied, the prosecution finds it difficult to obtain convictions.

Another police favourite is to drag up the ludicrously old law, the 1824 Vagrancy Act, which makes it illegal to expose the male person.


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