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    Nearly 4 million naturists in the UK

    Ten years ago BN employed GfK NOP to conduct a poll to find out what people’s attitudes really were and how many naturists there really are. That information has been invaluable to support our campaigning work but it was getting too old to be useful. We decided to engage Ipsos MORI to repeat the exercise.

    The survey was conducted during 23rd – 29th September 2011 via Capibus, Ipsos-MORI’s weekly face-to-face in-home interviews, using computer laptops. Ipsos MORI uses a form of random location sampling and 159 different sampling points were used. The sample comprised of 2,033 respondents aged 15 or over. It is interesting to compare how the numbers have changed but it can’t tell us how things are changing now. The time interval, over ten years, is too large for that. Questions and methods have changed so some care is required when making comparisons.

    A lot of work is going to be needed to analyse these results properly but I can provide a summary:

    Q1. Experience of Naturism

    The differences compared to 2001 have altered a little. A lower percentage of people have experienced nude sunbathing (10% in 2011 compared to 14% in 2001) or swimming (22% in 2011 compared to 24% in 2001) but a higher percentage have been to a British clothes-optional beach, resort or club (10% in 2011 compared to 7% in 2001). The figures are arguably a lot higher than many people would believe. It may only be one person in ten (10%) that has been to a naturist beach, resort or club in the United Kingdom but more than one in ten (12%) has been to a foreign naturist beach, one in ten (10%) has sunbathed nude and one in five (22%) has swum nude.

    Q2. Opinion of naturists

    The wording of this question was changed, on the advice of the polling company, but some loose comparisons can be made. Just over eight in ten people (82%) state that naturists are harmless, 5% say that they are sensible. Fewer than one in ten (9%) thinks that we are disgusting and only one in a hundred (1%) considers naturists to be criminal. That is similar to 2001 when 2% said “criminal” and 7% “disgusting”.

    Q3. Encountering naturists on the beach

    Around the same percentage (1%) would go naked themselves and more (5%) would be alarmed and keep well away than was the case ten years ago (2%) but the changes are small. Only one in a hundred (1%) would call the police.

    Q4. Suitability of places for Naturism

    There have been large changes for the worse. The proportion of the population stating that naturism should be legal in back gardens (38% in 2011, 66% in 2001), at certain times in public swimming pools (10% 2011 vs. 35% 2001), quiet areas of public parks (5% in 2011 vs. 10% in 2001), and designated areas (42% in 2011 vs. 69% in 2001) have all fallen considerably.

    Q5. Are you a naturist or nudist?

    6% of the people in the UK consider themselves to be a naturist or nudist. That is almost one person in 17. To put it another way, on the average 50-seater coach you would expect to find three people who consider themselves to be a naturist or nudist. In 2010, the population of the UK was about 62 million so there are now roughly 3.7 million naturists in the UK. We can honestly say that there are nearly four million naturists in the UK, a big increase compared to ten years ago. The percentage of naturists in 2001 was 2%, compared to 4% in 2005, with 2% considering themselves nudists.

    Society is becoming more polarised. There are many more naturists but a lot fewer people are happy for naturism to be practised in public places. Both of those changes were expected but we did not expect them to be so large. Unfortunately, despite naturism becoming a lot more popular and despite considerable progress on the legal front, the prudification of society is becoming a serious problem.

    Malcolm Boura

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