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Tourist shock as fake sign directs visitors to official 'dogging' area in Cotswolds



By Luke Salkeld

Last updated at 7:25 PM on 4th May 2010




article-1272333-096DE17E000005DC-196_233x325.jpg Prank: This official-looking sign directed tourists to a popular spot for public sex


It does not feature in the official Cotswolds tourism guide.

But among the honey stoned cottages and rolling hills of the historic area known as the 'heart of England', visitors have been directed towards one of the areas more unpleasant sights - an 'official' dogging area.

Pointing in the direction of a view point spot known for its spectacular scenery, anyone following the official-looking sign could be exposed to a shockingly memorable view.

The term 'dogging' refers to the act of public sexual activity, often between complete strangers, in outdoor places and in public view.

And the Barrow Wake view point near Circencester has apparently become a popular spot.

Today a brown and white sign, designed to replicate official signs to places of public interest, had been torn down from the Cirencester bypass at Birdlip after its erection over the Bank Holiday weekend.


David Parkinson, 53, who lives less than a mile from the 'Official Dogging Area' said Barrow Wake's reputation was a problem for local residents and that the sign had made the problem worse.

He said: 'It does tend to make the lives of local residents impossible.


'The viewpoint itself is one of the best in the area, fantastic views across Gloucestershire across the Malverns.

'You park there and you get accosted by people after 'stranger sex', I believe the terminology is. It's become a no-go area for residents.'

Mr Parkinson, a businessman, said he, his wife, and his daughter had all been followed by men when they were near the site, and that anyone arriving there to look at the view risked being accosted by strangers seeking sexual gratification.

Naked men were often seen in the area, day and night, with used condoms strewn across the area which is popular with walkers and tourists.


article-1272333-096DDFD5000005DC-946_468x286.jpg Popular: The fake 'dogging' sign pointed to the picturesque Barrow Wake viewpoint in the Cotswolds


Police patrol the area, but cannot be there all the time, and Mr Parkinson said locals had been avoiding it for over six years.

Last year a vigilante who filmed men meeting up for sex in a bid to clean up a woodland was prosecuted for his actions.

Colin Haw, 47, posted the footage of a well-known dogging area on a website to name and shame those he caught in the wood near Sleaford in Lincolnshire.

The father-of-two said he reported the problem to police but was ignored so decided to take action because the area was visited by families and children.

Images shown to a court showed the self-employed mechanic and his accomplices dressed in balaclavas, combat kit and brandishing a video camera and walkie-talkies.

On occasions they would pretend to be looking for sex in order to lure gay men into the area before confronting them and demanding to know what they were doing.

The previous year NHS healthcare workers attracted controversy for issuing free condoms at popular 'dogging' sites.

Health bosses insisted their initiative is to protect people against sexually transmitted diseases and said they had a duty to protect the dogging participants, the communities in areas where it took place and the sexual health workers who ran the outreach service.

But local councillors in Derbyshire criticised the move saying giving out free contraceptives will encourage the behaviour.

An arrestable offence under public decency laws, Gloucestershire Police said they were aware of concerns around Barrow Wake and were addressing them with an ongoing operation.

Inspector, Phil Offord, said: 'One of the key elements of the operation is to encourage local residents to report any incidents in the area.

'Our priority is to ensure that the area remains safe and beautiful for all those that live, work and visit here.

'We would like to encourage people to talk to the local policing team about any concerns they have for the area and also to report any illegal or suspicious activity so that appropriate action can be taken.'

A spokesman for Gloucestershire County Council refused to comment.

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