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On one occasion at Liverpool Street station, he says, “The police came along with a mirror on the end of a long pole.

“I disagreed with what they were doing so I would have liked to have argued, but I [felt] I was going to get arrested if I did.” The history and context to such police interventions sits uneasily with many officers today and many members of the LGBT community, making straightforward decisions about how to manage such activity in 2017 a fiendishly difficult balance.

The fear expressed by Tim and Andrew, and the wider anxiety among many, especially older gay and bisexual men, is informed by extraordinary behaviour by some officers throughout decades of targeted crackdowns and entrapment of men in public lavatories, drawing accusations of brutality and homophobia.

Are the laws in this area still fit for purpose – and how can they be applied to serve the public as a whole?

The questions also expose the difficulties of allocating police resources (in the case of Liverpool Street, those of the British Transport police) when the 21st-century horrors of terrorism demand so much.

And whether police can observe members of the public going to the toilet without invading the privacy of the innocent.

Over the next few weeks, Buzz Feed News began interviewing individuals who go cottaging, including one public figure.

“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.

He made an appointment with the British Transport police. What you need is the support of a community in order to police a community.

You want those same people you’re pissing off to ring you up and say we saw a suspicious car outside.’ I said, ‘Your response [to cottaging] is kneejerk, and what happens is you send out officers and it becomes a vessel for their homophobia.’”Michael says he has experienced this himself, that in a cottage in Hackney, east London, he was the victim of a police sting.

But that of course included looking at people on their own having a poo.