P = Private place
O = Over 21
O = Only 2 persons
F = Freely consenting
That was the mnemonic that I was taught by the Metropolitan Police Training School, Hendon, in 1971, to help me remember the law regarding those occasions when I needed to decide if homosexual activity that I might have stumbled upon, would be lawful. Our class instructor even referred to it as, "The Poof's Charter". David Steel (who championed the Bill through Parliament) would not have been pleased, but at least the mnemonic helped me pass my exams, as well as accurately separate lawful acts of homosexuality from the other sorts. I took my duty as a guardian of public morals as pragmatically as I could, but most of my arrests, of this nature, were for offences of `importuning for immoral purposes`, the most common being cross-hand boogies in a public place whereby members of the public were offended or outraged. Simple stuff really. But the police don't have to deal with this sort of thing very much these days.
Perhaps the sgt was taught the law by the use of that same mnemonic, but was mistaken by the degree of sexual activity he'd witnessed? I mean they were certainly in a public place, there was more than two of them, some or all of them may have been under 21 and the consent may well have only been given because of peer pressure but either way, any of those four elements would set off the nick-ometer. If he was Hendon trained from that era he may just have a defence, but I think he'll struggle. As a West Ham supporter and someone who counts a number of homosexuals and lesbians as close personal friends, I am in something of a quandary over this one. My homosexual friend will often refer to his friends by saying things like, `Oh I was out with the poofs last night`. Now whilst I would never use that term to describe Arsenal footballers, I have occasionally been heard referring to them, in previous clashes with my beloved Hammers, as a bunch of cnuts, without any complaints. How times have changed. NB: PCSO, for any trans-Atlantic visitors to this, or other UK police type blogs, stands for Police Community Support Officer. Please Google it yourself, or read about them elsewhere on UK cop blogs, as I have to keep an eye on my blood pressure.