Over a third of women have been sexually harassed on their commute to work

New data reveals over a third of women have been victims of sexual harassment or sexual offences while commuting by train or tube, a survey commissioned by British Transport Police (BTP) suggests.

The recent survey also shows that half (51%) of those who have been victims of sexual offending say that other passengers tried to help them, 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.

Specialist teams of plain clothes officers use this data to target their patrols and identify offenders, and investigations are supported by easy access to journey travel data and over 150,000 CCTV cameras on the railway network which provide us with quick and clear images of suspects.

The survey findings show that rail passengers are looking out for each other however, it’s vital that incidents are also reported to police for us to be able to act and hold offenders to account, making the network a safer place for everyone.

As part of the rail industry and BTP’s continued commitment to make sure every passenger feels safe when travelling by train, an ongoing anti-sexual harassment campaign tackling all forms of sexual harassment educates people to recognise how these situations occur for passengers and empowers them to intervene safely and report perpetrators.

If you see unacceptable behaviour such as leering, catcalling, touching, pressing, upskirting or indecent exposure, remember:

Speak Up: report to British Transport Police by texting 61016 or via the Railway Guardian app
Interrupt: Take simple and non-confrontational steps to interrupt or defuse a situation.
Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Furnell 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.

“We’re not asking people to police the railway because that’s our job, but we need people to report what’s happening to us so we can take action. 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.

“I would urge everyone to download the Railway Guardian app and let us know if you witness or experience this sort of offending. We will always believe you and take you seriously.”

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. Our campaign was created with BTP to highlight the different forms of sexual harassment and help people to think about simple actions they can take without putting themselves in harm’s way.

“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.”

Survey conducted by OnePoll of 2,000 British adults who usually commute to work by rail, tube or tram from 2 – 14 August 2023.
British Transport Police crime data covers England, Scotland and Wales from 1 August 2021 to 30 September 2023.

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