The British Transport Police (BTP) has published data that revealed more than a third of women have been victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault while commuting by train or tube.
BTP data suggested that half (51%) of victims received some form of support from fellow passengers during the harassment, yet only one in five (18%) people who have witnessed sexual harassment have reported it to police.
Contrary to popular belief, crime data also shows that most sexual offending takes place during the evening rush hour period (5-7pm) in busy train carriages.
Paul Furnell, detective chief superintendent, said: “I’ll guarantee that most of us have told our daughters, mums, or friends to be careful on their way home when they’re travelling alone late at night – perhaps to share their journeys and stick to well-lit areas.
“But we know that sexual harassment and offending can take place at any hour of the day, and our figures show that it’s most likely to happen at the busiest hours when carriages are most full. This means we all have a part to play in taking our heads out of our phones or newspapers and being aware of what’s going on around us – and if we see something that isn’t right doing something about it, whether that’s intervening if you feel safe to do so or reporting it to police.
“Reports provide us with the crucial information we need to identify crime hotspots and target our patrols to catch offenders and bring them to justice. Driving out this unacceptable behaviour is our number one priority at British Transport Police.”
BTP has reiterated its commitment to provide safe travel for all passengers. BTP reports that specialist teams of plain clothes officers are already using the survey data to target their patrols and identify offenders.
All investigations are supported by easy access to journey travel data and more than 150,000 CCTV cameras on the railway network, which can provide quick and clear images of suspects.
BTP’s ongoing anti-sexual harassment campaign aims to educate people to recognise how these situations occur for passengers and empower them to intervene safely and report perpetrators.
Jacqueline Starr, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Experiences of sexual harassment are sadly a reality for many women, but as an industry our message is clear, any form of sexual harassment on the rail network is completely unacceptable and we are working with the British Transport Police to confront this problem.
“The latest data shows that harassment doesn’t just happen out of sight. As bystanders we can help to confront this problem by reporting incidents or making safe interventions.
“We are committed to making everyone feel safe on the railway and want people to feel confident to report anything that makes them uncomfortable by texting 61016 or using the Railway Guardian app.”
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