“He said I was lucky he wasn’t charging me because otherwise I would be on the sex offenders register.” The officer, he says, also asked, “What if a kid had seen that?
”All the men Buzz Feed News spoke to, in response to this question, said that cottagers stop the moment a child enters and were horrified at the idea of anyone underage witnessing such activity.“I was very scared,” says Andrew about the experience overall.
A few months before Tim was caught, another man found himself in the grasps of the British Transport police. He says he had been standing at the urinals next to another man. Andrew looked over at the other man’s, at which point he heard a voice call out.“The police were where the sinks are. It was then that Andrew noticed they were wearing cameras: small devices attached to the uniforms, which the British Transport police call “body-worn video” (aka BWV) cameras.
I was outraged.” Michael says he also witnessed this technique at Manchester Victoria railway station.
Although such things are now seemingly not practised, for decades the police sent young, attractive plainclothes officers (dubbed “pretty policemen”) into toilets, to pose as fellow cottagers.
That is what the LA police did with George Michael and what the Metropolitan police did with the celebrated actor Sir John Gielgud in the 1950s, leading in both cases to their arrest and public shaming.
The policing of cottaging had become, like stop-and-search policies, incendiary, politicised. Michael, a smiley, salt-and-pepper-haired businessman, has for nearly 40 years gone cottaging and cruising across the country.
Now in his fifties, he begins to talk about what happened to him in the 1980s and 1990s.