As you know, most of the staff here are in the UK. That’s the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland to give it its official title. (Great Britain refers to the countries of England, Scotland & Wales).
So this story, from Northern Ireland, has been getting great mileage in the UK media for the past few days. Essentially it was particularly warm in Northern Ireland at the end of last week and two young men went skinny dipping in Belfast Lough. It would appear that there were a large number of people on the beach, the police were called, and the young men given a talking to.
But then it appears to have gone wrong for the Northern Ireland Police, who put on their Facebook profile that they’d take the thing seriously and people could end up on the Sex Offenders’ Register. While the young men involved could be prosecuted under Public Order legislation for ‘offending decency’, the likelihood is they’d get a slap on the wrist, a fine and a caution. And even that might depend. One English judge was recently moved to castigate two young men in court for fighting, and asked them why they couldn’t perhaps indulge in good wholesome activities…like skinny dipping!
The Sex Offenders’ register is seriously bad karma, for those of you reading this from outside the UK. It is intended for those who’ve undertaken the most vile sexual acts, or acts of paedohilia, not a couple of lads who strip off to skinny-dip. And in making what appeared to be threats to place the duo on the register, the internet has kind of gone into overdrive and most of it anti police.
The official organisation of naturism in the UK, British Naturism, are (rightly) livid about the situation, and it’s likely that there will now need to be urgent legislation placed before the Northern Ireland parliament to clarify the situation.
The story is now global. The story is making it into the pages of the UK’s heavyweight press. And most of it looking negatively on the police’s over reaction.
I’ve little sympathy. Facebook, and other social media, on all sorts of levels, appears to be a stopping shop for people to get their information out before checking it, be it on a personal, social level (‘John has split up with Jane’, prior to John telling Jane to her face), a business/professional level (the manager of Spanish football club Atletico Madrid recently posted something about the death of a journalist, only for the journalist’s wife to read it on FB prior to the police calling her to inform her), to the legal….in this case the Northern Ireland police acting in a threatening manner and without actually checking what the proper legal position on it is.
Harry’s rounded up a model, obtained a Northern Ireland flag (from the World Peace Flag Garden, no doubt), and she’s showing her support for nudity on the beaches of Northern Ireland (staged at Su Casa, in this instance).