Saturday, July 13, 2024

Councillors pledge to come down hard on dogging

RESIDENTS in a Thurrock Village have called for a closure of a local road which has become a haven for illicit sex meetings.

Last week’s meeting of Thurrock Council heard new ward councillor Sue Little make a plea on behalf of Bulphan residents for Peartree Lane to be closed as it has become a centre for ‘dogging’ where people, mostly homosexuals meet randomly for sex.

“This is a criminal activity and is not welcome in our Borough of Thurrock,” said the Orsett ward councillor. “The road needs to be closed. It could be done with a gate either end. This is a very easy problem to solve and I would like to see some action.”

Illicit activity in Peartree Lane, which is a little-used road that links the village with the A128 and has become a place where lorries have regularly parked overnight, has increased following the move last year by Brentwood Council to fence off the roads that adjoin South Weald Country park. A link road there, from the A128 to the Halfway House pub, had become a major centre for sex meetings, with people then going into the park to carry on their activities.

However the new fence, and increased police activity, have driven the activity into new sites.
Thurrock Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Protection, Cllr Angie Gaywood, who was being quizzed by

Cllr Little, agreed it was a problem that needed to be tackled.

However, she said it had only just been brought to the Council’s attention, “We have been made aware of this since the 15th May and we will be working with the police to resolve it. I have spoken to the police who say they have stepped up their activity in the area and more than 100 patrols have been made in that area.

Closing the road is not that easy but we will look at that option.
“In the meantime the police will continue to patrol and I would call on Cllr Little to raise the matter also at the local forum.”

10 COMMENTS

  1. One wonders why, under the previous Conservative administration, the Portfolio Holder for Public Protection failed to take any action on this site?

  2. Ed, are you saying you were aware of these activities, whilst the conservatives were in administration, back in 2009? If so may I ask how? as it would appear from the report above that the council were not made aware of the sites activities until 15.05.2012?

  3. Ed – stop attempting to invent reasons to blame Tories for things. You can’t seriously think there has been some massive council conspiracy to try to cover it up (no pun intended) for 3 years?

  4. Ben this has been a know site for decades, like the other locations used for such activity in the borough, I believe the Police attitude is to leave alone unless such activity results in complaints from the public then they will step up patrols to appease those complaining. Perhaps YT should ask Essex Police what their official line on such sites is. I believe there was a shift in the way such sites are policed and this will probably provide an explanation why no action has been taken in the past, especially if the previous ward councillors were either unwilling or unable to accept such activity was taking place in their ward in the first place.

  5. Ed- I think you misread my question I asked how you knew that this and according to your latest blog “other sites” in the borough existed? Not the portfolio holder?

  6. Chickenfeed1 – because when I was a Local Government Officer at Thurrock Council I did some extensive research back in 2008 on behalf of a Councillor on what the law was and what the Police attitude was to such activity.

    The Councillor had extensive knowledge of the various locations across the borough and in neighbouring boroughs and who wanted a Police crackdown but the Police guidelines advise that the police should only respond to complaints from the public and should not mount proactive operations designed to catch people cruising/cottaging/dogging – so the Police would leave such areas alone unless their activities became a nuisance to residents and users of the public parks – hence no action by any previous Portfolio holder for Public Protection – because the Police guidlines meant no proactive operations were to be mounted on such sites. I’m sure the editor of YT could check with the Police to see if such guidlines exist and what the Police attitude is to such sites.

    If I recall there had been no complaints at that time by members of the public so the Police had no reason to patrol such areas.

    The Police couldn’t arrest anyone as it It is not against the law for people to loiter, engage in conversation or walk around a cruising ground with the purpose of meeting others. In other words, you can not be arrested simply for going cruising/dogging/cottaging. So if the Police find a few cars full of men at the end of Peartree Lane they can’t do anything, unless they are engaging in any sexual activity or behaviour that may cause alarm or distress to others, such as indecent exposure or voyeurism then they could be arrested or prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 or the Public Order Act 1986.

    I was surprised at some of the sites I was told about as one I often visited with my children and had never noticed anything untoward going on. Councillor assured me if I did an internet search there would be plenty of information to be found – as I was hardly going to search for gay cruising and dogging spots using my Thurrock Council computer – I relied on the rather extensive knowledge of said Councillor that such activity was taking place at various spots across the borough.

    I seem to recall the location mentioned in the above article the ‘activity’ took place at the end of the lane some third of a mile away from the nearest house and there was either a single house or three houses that cars would drive past if they entered the lane from the Peartree Lane end. The biggest problem to residents were the large number of HGVs that parked there at night and the noise they made driving past the residential end of the lane.

    I applaud the fact since this site was complained about “more than a hundred” Police patrols have taken place along this lone country lane – perhaps residents plagued by crime and anti-social behaviour – should instead complain that there is cruising/cottaging/dogging taking place so they can get hundreds of Police patrols around their neighbourhood?

  7. I should have made clear in my 4th paragraph – you can’t be arrested for being at a known site for cruising/dogging/cottaging but would be arrested if engaging in activity that could cause alarm or distress to others at the site.

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