‘Anyone for dogging?’ – Stevenage social media invitation to engage in late night sexual activity is not illegal say police as it draws a colourful response from readers

Fairlands Valley Park

Fairlands Valley Park - Credit: Archant

A popular Stevenage social media site has defended its decision not to take down an invitation to ‘go dogging’ which was posted on its page as it was ‘probably a joke’.

An anonymous person created the post on the Spotted in Stevenage Facebook page on January 18, inviting people to join him and ‘his wife’ to engage in the pastime which generally involves watching people engage in sexual activity, more often than not in a car.

The somewhat tongue-in-cheek post, which is still visible online, reads: “Me and wife are currently looking for another couple to join us in the back of our 1994 Volvo five-door hatchback every Friday at Fairlands Valley Park, between 1am and 3am, for lots of fun, must be over the age of 57 and into squirty cream. Thanks.”

It is not clear if the post is serious, but either way, Herts police have said the post is not itself illegal and they have received no complaints about it.

It raises questions about moral boundaries on social media posts which can easily be read by anyone using the internet.

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The responses on Facebook have ranged from mildly amused to outraged, while others – which can still be read on the page – are simply too rude to print.

One reader appeared to be annoyed he was going to miss out, posting: “Gutted, I don’t meet the age requirements”.

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Another bemoaned the lateness of the hour, saying: “It’s a bit late for me, can’t make any earlier?”

One felt it would be too cold to venture out. He posted: “So as this sent by ‘anon’ I take your car will have a can of cream or a red carnation on top! Thankfully I’m not 57 and it’s too cold, rather be at home in the warm with my squirty cream.”

A man who was concerned about his weight, said: “I’m on a diet, so I’ll give the cream a miss.”

Some didn’t see the funny side though and were entirely unimpressed. One reader posted: “Unfollowing this page because everyday it posts this trivial nonsense.”

When asked about the post by the Comet, the Spotted in Stevenage administrator – who is known as The Stevenage STIG – replied: “To be honest, it was probably a joke, someone sent it in for fun I believe. It would be a bit silly of anyone to actually post publicly their exact whereabouts and what car they’re driving at a certain time at night.

“I don’t think it’s to be taken seriously. People get upset and believe everything they read on social media so that’s their issue.

“However if I felt that anything that people sent in to be posted was in any way going to cause serious worry then I wouldn’t post it. Having said that, I make no excuses for my page being controversial in its content, it was created with that sole purpose, but also to serve the community when needed.

“Since I started my page I have helped hundreds of people, featured in local, national and international press and prime time TV news stations.

“Besides, dogging has been going on there long before that post was made. The only time I would take the post down if there was police involvement and if they asked me directly to remove it.”

The legal position surrounding ‘dogging’ in the UK is somewhat ambiguous and police forces tend to adopt a more relaxed approach than you might think, partly because they have been subjected to a lot of guidance warning them against discriminating against sexual minorities.

A spokeswoman for Herts police said: “Although the practice of ‘dogging’ is not explicitly banned by one particular law, there are a multitude of offences anyone caught doing the act in public could be charged with. These include things such as indecent exposure, public lewdness and gross indecency.

“Hertfordshire Constabulary would always seek a proportionate response according to the particular circumstances. However, ultimately people caught dogging could be prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 or under the common law offence of outraging public decency.”

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