Its okay to phone 999.

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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!

10 Replies to “Its okay to phone 999.”

  1. Absolutely! As I was telling you guys the other day, when I was involved in an incident where a guy was being sexually explicit and hinting at violence whilst also suggesting we enter a deserted carpark I called the police and they were brilliant about it. This was next to a busy main road in the early evening too, nobody deserves to feel scared anywhere. In this situation I walked away and jumped on the next bus to anywhere Always inform the police!

  2. Absolutely agree too, everyone had the right to go about their lives with out fear, intimidation or threat. If this guy, or anyone else has an overriding desire to play with themselves, they can do that in the privacy of their own homes, and not involve other people.

    This type of behaviour is about causing another person shock and or distress, it is utterly selfish, unwanted and is not acceptable; you did the right thing.

  3. WOW this has never happened to me & I hope it never does but i will be sure to phone 999 if it ever does or encourage others to do so, thank you for this post ! & I hope you’re okay and not too shook up ! x

    1. Thanks, I’m fine. I was a bit shaken up until I got back to the car, then I drove back to the hangar, and the other rangers were great (as usual – but don’t tell them I said that!). 🙂

  4. A helicopter because of a flasher? Isn’t that overkill?

    I was flashed as a teenager, and I didn’t report it (this was before the days of mobile phones, so by the time I’d got to a phone box it would have been way too late anyway). It’s a bit distressing at the time, certainly. But I’m surprised the police tell you to phone 999 for such an incident. I suppose in a reserve it will take him a while to get away, but the chances of them catching him if he’s anywhere he can just disappear into crowds or buildings must be very slight.

    It’s not clear from your account whether this guy was doing it because you were there – it sounds as though you came across him doing something he thought he was doing in private. In which case, although it upset you, I don’t think it can be counted as a threatening act. If it was directed at you, or because he thought someone would see him, that’s different and clearly a crime.

    I am glad you are OK – nasty experience.

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