Is it illegal to be naked in public? Nudity and decency laws for the UK explained – The Sun | The Sun

SWELTERING summer months mean you might be tempted to strip off, helping you feel at one with nature.

But what are the rules around public nudity? This is what the law has to say…

Is it illegal to be naked in public in the UK?

British Naturism has published guidance over public nudity in England, Wales and Scotland.

There are even international events like the World Naked Bike Ride, who's dress code is "bare as you dare".

A couple from Scotland were knocked down by a raging driver for riding in the nude, raising money for charity.

It is not an offence to be naked in public in England and Wales, but it can become one in certain circumstances.

This would apply if a complainant can prove another individual stripped off with the intent to shock or cause upset.

Similarly there is no Scottish law specifically against public nudity, but incidents can be classed as “offending public decency” and being a “breach of the peace.”

Again, a member of the public would have to prove they had been put in a state of alarm or distress.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service "a balance needs to be struck between the naturist's right to freedom of expression and the right of the wider public to be protected from harassment, alarm and distress".

What are the nudity and decency laws for the UK?

In England and Wales, the two statutes most likely to be applicable are Section Five Public Order Act 1986, and for aggressive nudity Section 66 Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Here are the official wordings of the acts:

Section Five Public Order Act 1986

A person commits an offence if they “use threatening [or abusive] words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or display any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening [or abusive], within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.”



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Section 66 Sexual Offences Act 2003

A person commits an offence if they “intentionally exposes his genitals, and intends that someone will see them and be caused alarm or distress.”

A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both; on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

Have there been any famous cases of nude arrests?

Steve Gough, aka the Naked Rambler, has been behind bars almost continually for years for refusing to wear clothes either in public, in court or in prison.

In all, he has been convicted of around 17 breaches of the peace for walking naked since he first hit the headlines in 2003 as he walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats naked.

The oddball ex-marine always denies the charges against him, claiming that courts ordering him to put his clothes on breaches Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.


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