Heath cruisters told to 'bag and bin' sexual litter

GAY cruisers on Hampstead Heath are to be given plastic bags to crack down on the problem of sex litter. The West Heath is a well known cruisers hang-out, where men will meet each other day or night to have sex

Ben McPartland

GAY cruisers on Hampstead Heath are to be given plastic bags to crack down on the problem of 'sex litter'.

The West Heath is a well known cruisers' hang-out, where men will meet each other day or night to have sex.

Although it is mostly a case of 'out of sight out of mind', residents and dog walkers have long complained about the issue and are fed up with seeing used condoms, wrappers, tissues and tubes of lubricant.

Now, police will be giving out litter bags for men taking part in the lewd acts to clean up after themselves.

"This is one of those places which is renowned for this type of activity. We are never going to stop the problem but what we can do is work in partnership," said Heath Constabulary manager Richard Gentry.

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"If they are going to use the area for their activity then they should dispose of their own litter.

"I am asking people to clean up after themselves. There are bins but I am providing bags for people to take their rubbish home with them or dispose of it quickly."

Many people would like to see police doing more to stamp out the practice altogether. But Mr Gentry denied he was turning a blind eye to the problem of people having sex in public.

He said: "We have appropriate powers to deal with them. We proactively work with various agencies to deal with the issue of sex in public environments and the litter.

"When I have been up there and people approach me and they have expressed concern I have made it clear to them what the area is renowned for."

One dog walker on the West Heath, Meher Toorkey from Cholmley Gardens, thinks the police should be doing more.

She said: "As members of the public we have the right to enjoy this wonderful space without having to reel under the shock of witnessing men engaging in sexual intercourse with other men, or hiding behind trees with their trousers wrapped round their knees committing lewd acts.

"I would like to point out that I am not a homophobic person out to ban gay men. I would be equally enraged to find any human being engaged in sexual activity in open spaces, and particularly if they leave their infectious litter all over the place.

"I do hope the Heath police wake up to this and do something about it."

Last September volunteers from the gay community joined forces with police and charity workers for a clean up of the area and more than 20 bin bags of sexual litter were collected in just one day.

Will Nutland, a health promotion officer from the sexual health charity the Terence Higgins Trust, supported the latest police move.

"We are always reminding the men about the environmental issues with leaving litter around," he said.

"It's always important to take it away because if they leave sex litter around it will attract attention from people who will not treat them so favourably. It may result in potential attacks or violence against them."

Frognal and Fitzjohn's councillor Andrew Mennear also backed the bags. He said: "I don't want to say people should never get up to hanky panky behind a bush, but this is a fundamental issue of keeping our neighbourhood tidy."