The new Salem witch trials

bus I went to an all girls' school. At 8.00am of a weekday morning the top deck of the 152 double decker was filled with giggling schoolgirls. Every morning at James' Road a man got on and came upstairs. There would be subdued squeals and a dashing about. One day I was sitting on my own and he sat beside me. He seemed very old, quite scruffy in a long beige gabardine mac and a bit whiffy. He seemed to be breathing deeply, his hand shook and kept seeming to hover over my thigh. I would move my leg away and he would put his hand down. Then the deep breathing would begin again and the hand would hover. I realised something sexual was going on but just gulped and kept my legs as far away as possible. I made sure that I never sat in a single seat again.

He regularly got on the 152 for about a year. He was never spoken to, never shamed but there was always the squeals when he got on and most days he sat alone. Nobody dreamed of reporting him. He was just a strange man and we didn't really speak about him. We felt he was rather sad. In retrospect he was probably a middle aged man with learning difficulties. Nowadays he would have been on the sex-offenders' register and possibly in prison. Females used to be able to cope with men like this and with what used to be called 'flashers', now the police are called. We used to accept that some men were rather odd and be able to distinguish these from the dangerous ones. Nowadays they are all lumped together as 'paedos'. In fact, a common profile of a paedophile is that of a well spoken professional man and most child abuse occurs amongst friends and family in the family home. Salem

The modern version of the Salem witch trials has been Operation Ore. This began in 1999 and is still going on, consuming vast amounts of police time and money and slowly destroying the lives of thousands of men. This during the time when the police were spending a fortune protecting Abu Hamza as he preached vitriolic sermons against the West outside Finsbury Park Mosque. Since 2003 there have been severe doubts expressed about the soundness of the operation. Freelance journalist Duncan Campbell writing in the Guardian cites the poor IT skills of the UK police, this has led to substantial problems.The US police charged 100 people out of 35,000 suspects. They had back up evidence to check that the men had indeed visited the sites. In the UK, police have, so far, convicted 1,451 men out of the original 7,250 suspects. This is hardly surprising as they barely considered the possibility of fraud and did not have back up evidence. This despite the fact that the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit , set up at a cost of £25 million, to support police forces, was there to help.

Abu Hamza
Abu Hamza Nearly 40 men have committed suicide and thousands have had their lives ruined. Add this to the adverts and payments offered to young men in council care to come forward if they had been abused in the past. Some had, some had not, some men have been accused wrongly and are still in prison but, surely, this is not a sensible way to go about things? We also have another layer of bureaucracy within the new Ministry of Justice, namely NOMS the National Offender Management Service. They will be supervising child rapists, men who have had their credit card details stolen and our chap from the 152 bus. We just have to hope that they can tell the difference.