I just got back from the police station where I’ve spent the afternoon giving a detailed statement about something that happened to me earlier this week. On Tuesday afternoon,
I was patrolling one of our reserves (It doesn’t matter which one, as this is relevant ANYWHERE you walk alone – Ladies, especially you – listen up!) when ahead of me and to the right there was a man whom I assumed to be urinating in the bushes. Only he wasn’t urinating, if you get my drift.
I looked at him and he looked back and just grinned and carried on masturbating and staring at me. Look, I’m not going to pull any punches here, or soften my language, or sugar-coat the issue, because if we don’t TALK about it, nothing happens. It persists. And whether it feels like it or not, flashing and exposure are sex crimes. It might be easy to say that the guy didn’t get close to me, or say anything, or touch me at all, and so what harm was REALLY done, but I can tell you one thing, I was genuinely scared.
Because you don’t know what these maniacs are like, or where they draw the line. I just kept walking (quickly!) until I was out of sight, thinking – “If this guy comes after me, I have NOTHING to defend myself with!“. I didn’t phone the police because I’d feel a bit of a ninny phoning 999 to tell them there’s a weirdo out in the countryside playing with himself (“You don’t say!”). I mean, it wasn’t exactly an emergency, and by the time anyone got there, he’d be long gone, so what good would it do?
But I was wrong. And now that I KNOW how wrong I was, I have to tell YOU, because you deserve to feel safe when you are out in the countryside. You deserve to know that its okay to phone the police. And I’m going to tell you why:
1. It is a crime in progress. (Section 66 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 makes it an offence for a person intentionally to expose his genitals where he intends that someone will see them and be caused alarm or distress). When you witness ANY crime in progress, you should phone 999. End of.
2. Flashers are thrill seekers. And thrill seekers tend to escalate. If you don’t report it, next time it might not be voyeurism or exhibitionism. Next time it could be rape.
I have had some fantastic support and advice over the matter from our local police officers, and I’d like to say a huge and public THANK YOU to West Midlands Police, who do a wonderful job with limited resources.
They are continuing to crack down on this type of activity in 2013 – and have given me the following information regarding what they want you to do if you see ANYTHING lewd or inappropriate going on in a public place:
- Please phone 999 emergency immediately! Our plan involves an immediate response for officers to attend and try to capture the offender. We will use all available resources including dog officers and our helicopter. Please do not wait until you get home.
- Good descriptions of the offender including descriptions of clothing are very valuable to us. If the offender is in a vehicle, the registration number is also extremely valuable to help identify them, the make and model is also very useful.
- Details of where the offender was last seen, or last seen heading to is also very valuable in assisting us to locate them quickly
- Never put yourself at further risk to obtain these details, but if have seen them please commit them to memory, or write them down if you can. This information can then be passed straight out to officers by our radio controllers so a good search can commence straight away. We will also alert CCTV operators to assist with the hunt!