Scots police officers have been ordered to protect exhibitionists who engage in illegal outdoor sex, according to highly controversial ‘hate crime’ guidance.
But critics have branded the guidance as “absurd”, and this latest revelation is likely to heighten concern about skewed police priorities.
The Hate Crime Guidance Manual encourages officers to investigate anyone suspected of committing a so-called ‘hate crime’ against doggers and cottagers.
Dogging involves two strangers of the opposite sex meeting in a public place to have sex, and cottaging involves homosexual men meeting for sex in public places.
One officer from Kent blasted the guidance saying: “So now we are being told not just to turn a blind eye to public indecency, we are being told to arrest anyone who has anything bad to say against people taking part in outdoor sex.
“It’s getting to the stage that people who break the law have more rights than the normal man or woman on the street, and as for them suffering from post traumatic stress, what about the people who witness these exhibitions and are shocked by it? What about their rights?”
And Hugh McKinney, of the National Family Campaign, said: “There is a good reason that we have laws against these types of sexual behaviour in public, namely that they are deemed to be beyond what is acceptable to most reasonable people.
“Is it too much for us to expect the police to enforce the law? After all, they’re the only ones who can.”
The guidance, which was issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland last week, orders officers to protect doggers and cottagers because they may be left traumatised if they are abused or taunted in any way.
Les Gray, the chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “I do not believe that our officers require a 60-page booklet to tell them that we should carry out our duties without fear, favour, malice or ill will.”
He added: “Just because someone engages in unusual or different activities it does not preclude them from the protection of the law.
“By the same token it doesn’t mean that they will get more protection by doing so.”
Last week it was revealed that the guidance advises officers to treat crimes against homosexuals and minority groups more seriously than crimes committed against the general public.
And last month one of Britain’s top police officers warned that the police were chasing politically imposed targets instead of dealing with real crime, leaving yobs to run amok.
Sir Denis O’Connor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary, warned that bureaucratic targets imposed by central Government had skewed policing priorities.
And earlier this year a report by the Civitas think-tank cautioned that Christians in Britain were being unfairly targeted for hate crime prosecutions.
The report, entitled A New Inquisition: Religious Persecution in Britain Today, also warned that existing hate crime legislation poses a danger to freedom of speech.
The report cited the example of Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang who were prosecuted for a hate crime, under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, last year after they engaged in a breakfast debate about Islam with a guest at their hotel.
The couple, who were supported by The Christian Institute, were declared innocent last December but the ordeal led to the closure of their hotel at the end of September. They have now launched a new business.
By contrast the report also cited the example of a Muslim man who escaped prosecution for a hate crime despite defacing a war memorial with slogans such as “Islam will dominate the world – Osama is on his way”.