09:15AM, Thursday 14 February 2019
Councillors have backed a concerned father’s call for more measures to tackle dogging at a notorious hotspot by Maidenhead Thicket.
Hamish Gilfeather, who lives near Pinkneys Green, regularly walks through the woods with his four children on the way to Stubbings Nursery, passing the Butterfly Trail car park in Henley Road.
He believes dogging – public sexual activity – is becoming ‘blatant’, and is calling for more robust action to stop it.
“We do not feel unsafe or anything, but it is not particularly a nice environment and having to explain it to children is uncomfortable,” he said.
“It would be nice for them to be able to run around in the woods and be normal children.
“It goes on throughout the week and I am not sure it is actually policed.”
Mr Gilfeather said it had reached the stage where some dog walkers were left feeling uncomfortable and said it ‘goes a bit too far’ with children around.
“Something needs to be done,” he added.
In 2016, the Advertiser reported on calls for cameras to be installed and for people to report the issue to police.
The site is owned by the National Trust, which said in 2016 it was ‘working with the police and the Royal Borough to tackle the issue’. It added yesterday (Wednesday) that is again aware of ‘anti-social behaviour’ in one of its car parks.
Ward councillor Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green), said: “If it is starting to come back again, then I am going to be straight on to the police to find out what is happening, because I thought this had been stamped out.
“The National Trust has done its job – cutting back the bushes so there is less undergrowth.
“The police need to have a physical presence there in uniform to discourage behaviour.”
Cllr Marius Gilmore (Con, Pinkneys Green) added: “This is a matter of public indecency, so it is a police matter and I would encourage your readers and residents concerned to contact them. As far as I am aware, nothing has been raised with council officers, but we will continue to monitor it.”
Owen Hibben, the National Trust’s lead ranger at Maidenhead and Cookham Commons, said: “We are aware of some anti-social behaviour at one of our car parks. The ranger teams in the area work hard to ensure the countryside and car parks are looked after.
“There is regular work to cut back vegetation and weekly litter picks in car parks and gathering points.
“We urge visitors to respect the environment and the rights of all users. We continue to work with the police and the Royal Borough to do all we can to tackle any issues.”
Update: Police Sergeant Ryan Powell of the RBWM Problem Solving Team said: "We are aware of the specific incident this article refers to.
"Thames Valley Police does not receive many reports of dogging at all, but we do treat those we receive as a serious matter.
"Members of the public including children should not have to come across any incidents of this nature and we are committed to making sure this doesn’t become a regular occurrence.
"We would appeal for members of the public to report any concerns as soon as they have them via our online reporting portal or 101 so we can deal with them robustly then and there.
"Our Incident and Crime Response teams, and our Local Neighbourhood Teams will robustly deal with any reports as soon as they can. “ Police Sergeant Ryan Powell of the RBWM Problem Solving Team."
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