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.