Saturday, 17 January 2009

Gotta Love Victorian Ladies' Underwear

`Bustle punching` was the nickname given, by Met Police officers working Central London, to a particularly annoying activity that took place in large crowds. It was quite prevalent at the Buckingham Palace guard change where, every day at 11.30, around 20,000 tourists flood to the gates and monuments to watch the ceremony. The bustle puncher is a male of the species, who, taking advantage of the pressing crowd, would position himself behind his female victim and using the pressure of the crowd as his cover, would press himself against her buttocks and rub said parts with either his hands or groin to gain sexual gratification. Spotting and arresting them was a skill that many officers of that division acquired, myself included. The bustle punchers would inevitably be arrested for "conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace", although there would occasionally be sufficient evidence for a charge of "insulting behaviour" or even "indecent assault". This offence may be familiar to any woman who is a frequent traveller on the London Underground trains at rush hours – or perhaps you just didn’t notice in the crush? However, in those days an indecent assault on a female over 14yrs was, amazingly, not an offence that carried a power of arrest. Only an indecent assault on a female under 14yrs was arrestable. Men of any age were OK though. If you indecently assaulted us, that was absolutely an arrestable offence. Sexist legislation at its most blatant. This law wasn’t amended until the 1980’s when it was equalised and made arrestable for victims of either sex and any age. The bustle punchers are doubtless still at it, human nature being what it is, so keep your eyes open next time you pay a visit to the Queen.

7 comments:

JennyB said...

I experienced this type of sexual activity while standing in the dinner queue at HMS Collingwood and wondered what was occurring at my rear!! I turned around and glared at an enormous brick-building of a Marine who just smiled laconically at me. I grabbed a fork from the counter and glared at him. He backed off enough to allow me time to get bangers and mash and escape to a table with friends.

Cst KO said...

Thats messed up,, there are some crazy people out there, If the ladys wore that dress in your pic, it would protct them...They could put something sharp on the back too..lol

Hogday said...

It was pretty common at the changing of the guard. Might still be for all I know. I've always appreciated shapely femininity but to do something like that, without freely given consent and mutual agreement is beyond me.

dickiebo said...

I learnt our 'Powers of Arrest' in 1959. Seems to me that nowadays, a person can be arrested for just about anything!

Hogday said...

Quite right Dickiebo. You would have studied the Larceny Act 1916, that died the death just before I joined and so I studied The Criminal Law Act which created the term `arrestable offence` which was based, mainly, on the penalty ie If it carried `5 or more yrs inmprisonment on first conviction, it was arrestable, but we still had to learn the other stautory powers. Then along came Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) and its codes. Basically, PACE encompassed the 5yrs principle but also allows the officer to arrest if the i/d of the suspect cannot be verified, along with other useful conditions. Without getting text book technical, you can now be arrested for not having a light on your pedal cycle if conditions apply. I didn't want to hang around for the next lot of changes and so grabbed my 30yr pension and strolled away, without even saying goodbye. As for the bustle puncher offences, at least the coppers of today are saved from having to `fear a breach of the peace` (or imagine one, as we did;) in order to do the right thing and arrest, not that I think they'd do any different.
Thanks for looking in on my blog.

jms735a said...

Hog day,help! I'm ex-Roch, sorry to see its closed, stood many a time on early turn o/s Buck House. Can you help re the statute the bustle punchers were charged under? Only, I'm with the dark side now representing a poor and innocent, and the beaks have got it wrong. We're off to the C of A against sentence. Can you help please?

Hogday said...

735A: Blimey, thinking back nearly 40 years, I recall we used to mainly arrest for conduct likely to cause a BoP. Depending on the `available evidence`, ie did the victim realise what was happening, the case would usually go to court for a bind-over. With a willing complainant I think S.54 (13) Met Police Act 1829 (threatening, abusive, insulting behaviour) was the the charge of choice.