A CRACKDOWN is being launched to stop motorists using East Lancashire’s beauty spots for outdoor sexual encounters.
It comes after police were made aware of ‘dogging’ in woods near a school during the daytime.
Insp Viki Crorken said some of the sites being used could result in schoolchildren stumbling across them.
Walkers said they had also been left intimidated by the cars, which cruise around known hotspots looking for a partner. They brandished the practice as ‘horrendous’ and ‘disgusting’ and said a website advertising the most popular East Lancashire locations was ruining the region’s reputation.
Among the locations described as good ‘dogging’ sites on the page include Burnley’s Crown Point and Queens Park, which is said to have ‘lots of opportunities for fun’, and Birdy Brow in Clitheroe, which has ‘plenty of action between couples almost every night’.
Other sites include Stones Bank Road, on the road between Darwen and Egerton, which has wooded areas on each side and has become a notorious spot for public sex.
When the Lancashire Telegraph went to investigate the extent of the problem, numerous cars were seen moving from one layby to another in Stones Bank Road, during the early evening, with drivers following each other into the trees before re-emerging several minutes later.
One walker, who asked not to be named, said he would often see men and women in cars waiting for others to approach them.
He said: “I see it quite a lot. I go up there for walks and you see things. There are couples sometimes and blokes too.
“I used to take my kids up there, but I do not any more and I can understand why schools are not happy.
“You used to get families camping up there, but they do not anymore and I think it is because of the dogging.
“I have been followed once. It made me feel a bit uneasy.
“My mum and dad used to take me up there when I was little and I have good memories. The place has not changed, but the clientele has.”
Coun Jean Rigby, who represents the North Turton with Tockholes ward, said she thought the activity brought down the area’s reputation.
She said: “It is a horrendous place. I cut through there quite often to go to Belmont and I see cars cruising up and down.
“I would not go into those woods on my own. It is tragic because, to me, it could be a really nice walk, but it is used for this awful purpose.
“I just drive along there getting angrier and angrier. It is disgusting.”
Other ‘dogging’ sites listed include Barrowford Locks, in Colne, Anne’s Wood, Earby, Dean Clough and Parsonage Reservoirs, Great Harwood and Calf Hey Reservoir, Haslingden.
Coun Annabel Shipley, who represents the Greenfield ward, said: “It is very disappointing that beauty spots are listed on the site and attract people from all over. It is an issue that has been going on for a long time and I am hoping the police are using all their powers and enforcement to sort this out.
“We do not want it in our local beauty spots which are used by families and children. It is something we do not condone or promote in this area.”
Earby councillor Vera Cocker added: “It is absolutely awful. These lovely places are being spoilt with this sort of thing.
“There is a cycle link through Anne’s Wood so anybody at all could see them. It is horrendous to think it is going on.
“I would say each to their own, but please do it in private.”
Insp Crorken, from Lancashire Police, said the priority was teaching those who have sex in public about the risks.
She said: “We have had reports of dogging in areas where schoolchildren may happen upon them during the day.
“The site in Stones Bank Road is not far away from a school, so if children are going into the woods, they might see it.
“It happens every day during daylight hours.
“We want to educate these people and help them understand children can come across them.
“We are interested in protecting children from stuff they should not see.”
Insp Paul Leigh, from Rossendale Police, said: “We are constantly monitoring these sorts of inappropriate activities in open spaces and if we have reports of it, we will deal with it.
“A lot more car parks are secure in the evenings now, which prevents this sort of thing.
“Our message is that this is inappropriate behaviour and we will deal with it formally.”
Anybody with information should call police on 101.