The Metropolitan Police claim to be powerless in their battle to halt the growing popularity of gay cruising and straight dogging in a spot noted for its natural beauty.

Scratchwood Open Space is near Borehamwood in Hertfordshire but is owned by Barnet Council. In the past three years, the site has seen its popularity grow for both straights and gays to meet for anonymous sex.

The site has been listed on a popular swinging website that claims the location offers “good dogging action.”

Garry Ward, a 52 year old local resident has been calling on the local council to reclaim the area for families. “People won’t use it because they feel too frightened and intimidated,” he told the Borehamwood Times. “This has got to stop. It’s a beautiful open space. There’s men wandering over there trying to solicit other men.

“I feel frightened for women and children going over there who don’t know.

“It’s getting like Hampstead Heath. Everyone’s frightened to step on their toes, but someone’s got to take a stand.”

Barnet Police who are responsible for policing the site claim that they are powerless to act when the sexual act takes place inside a privately owned car. “We are not the moral police,” a spokesperson told the paper.

A council spokesman said: “I don’t want to appear blasé about it, but it’s difficult to curb human nature.”

Gay men who cruise in the area have in the past been victims of attacks by local youths.