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    Legal success in Scotland

    Following the success of BN's work securing College of Policing guidelines for Naturists in England and Wales, I decided as SANER Campaigns Co-ordinator to build on the good relationship we have built with the Scottish police and try to bring about similar changes in police practice.

    Police Scotland are a single authority which covers the whole of Scotland, and historically attitudes have been fairly conservative towards nudity. Edinburgh is the only city in the UK where world naked bike riders have had to cover their genitals and when police received complaints from the public about Naturists out and about or sunbathing in their garden they would feel obliged to investigate, although arrests in Scotland have been rare.

    Attitudes started to change with the SANER region's annual event in Dunoon (The Gathering) where I negotiated with the police for Naturists to enjoy local walks and beaches without fear of arrest. This stood me in good stead when I contacted the Deputy Chief Constable of Police Scotland to ask if they would be following the College of Policing guidelines introduced in England and Wales. I was contacted by the Chief Inspector at their Policy Unit and over a series of emails agreement was reached to broadly follow the College of Policing guidelines. What helped convince the Chief Inspector to change the guidelines were conversations he also had with the Inspector in Dunoon who gave a glowing report on our attitude and behaviour during the Gathering.

    The Chief Inspector had discussions with his counterpart in Command and Control and it was agreed that where a Naturist was using their garden, beaches or out walking naked callers would be advised that it is not illegal to be naked and no further action would be taken by the police. They will only investigate if there are indications of disturbed, disruptive or sexual behaviour. By disturbed they mean behaviour suggesting drug, alcohol or mental health issues. If there is no indication of any behavioural issues police will take no further action.

    The new guidance has been distributed to police call centres and frontline staff and is also on the police intranet. 

    However members may be interested in a conversation I had with the policy unit Chief Inspector about beaches. He phoned me to advise that he had looked at the BN website and when he saw that a skinny dip was being arranged near Edinburgh he contacted the local station to ensure that officers were aware of the guidelines so swimmers wouldn't be interrupted if members of the public called. I asked him about beach use generally as designated beaches are not accessible for everyone. His reply was that as public nudity is not illegal we are entitled to use any beach in Scotland. He did qualify this by advising that if someone phoned to complain who was deemed vulnerable due to age or disability the police would need to call out and may ask Naturists to cover up. I argued that if someone vulnerable phoned in the police could reduce their alarm by explaining that Naturism is a lawful and healthy lifestyle and there was no intent to cause alarm. He accepted this.

    The Chief Inspector also advised that if there was a risk of conflict between a confrontational member of the public and a Naturist unwilling to move away or get dressed the police would call out and mediate. He advised that no Naturist should face arrest and asked me to let him know if any of our members experienced problems. In order to determine whether the new guidelines are sufficient we need to get out there and start using mainstream beaches and countryside walks as well as our gardens. 

    Juliette Gill


    Edited by Andrew Welch

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