No fashion weaponed against us...UK Law on Indecent Exposure

The temperatures are rising and I've seen some outstanding summer outfits. I've also seen a few people catching a tan on TFL (Transport for London for my transatlantic readers) in their actual bikini's. I personally think it is entirely inappropriate. Yes, I understand you worked out for the entire year to get that beach body and didn't ever see the beach. But for the four year old who won't stop asking why someone was allowed to colour three hearts on her tummy or the sixteen year old who wonders why her body doesn't look quite like theirs its just not fair. And for the many men who happen to be on public transport with these lovely ladies... I salute you, for this is surely fashion weaponed against you!

Anyway I thought to myself, as I always do when something doesn't quite go my way: there must be a law against it! I rifled through my mental legal library and found it: Indecent Exposure and Outraging Public Decency.

In the UK indecent exposure is defined under the Sexual Offences Act (2003) as exposing genitals with intention and the person must intend that someone will see and be 'caused alarm or distress'.

Outraging public decency is when someone commits an act of such a 'lewd, obscene or disgusting nature as to amount to an outrage to public decency'. For it to be in public, there has to have been a possibility of at least two members of the general public seeing it. Upon conviction, one can be charged up to £5000 or 6 months in prison. 

The only problem with this law is that times change and standards change. A few hundred years ago, walking down the street in your underwear bikini would definitely have been a criminal offence, but nowadays it is unlikely that someone will call the police or that the CPS will see it sufficiently in the public interest to prosecute! (this actually happened to two girls who got arrested for flashing a CCTV camera on the beach)

Ah well, the law won't do anything about it but at least you have learnt something new. My advice chickas is to dress to impress, emphasis on the dress. Have a smidgen of decorum because you never know who you can run into. Imagine you have an interview for your dream job and you find that the partner interviewing you is none other than the mister who you sat next to on the bus in your bikini last week...

2 Response to No fashion weaponed against us...UK Law on Indecent Exposure

31 May 2010 at 13:49

Great post! I've never seen a girl on the tube in a bikini (nor a man come to that :p ) but when I'm up in London tomorrow so will keep a close eye out! ;-)

I wouldn't fancy being so scantily clad on the bakerloo line - much too much of a draught!!

"The only problem with this law is that times change and standards change."

Isn't that one of the *advantages* ,though, of having it deliberately vague and objectively worded? It can move with the times and will not need constant re-drafting? :-$

And yeah, the two girls you referred to actually, you know, whipped them out at the camera ;-) , and that's why they were arrested... it wasn't just for wearing bikinis! :p

And from what I recall, the charges were dropped, right? :-)

31 May 2010 at 15:45

Yup, it is an advantage in terms of redrafting but in terms of effect I don't see it as an advantage at all. I think sometimes a little redrafting is needed in order to ensure that the law does not become completely obsolete.

Yes the girls did flash their full glories but depending on the bikini there is very little left to the imagination. Yeah dropped as not in public interest to prosecute (aka they were only having a little fun!)

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