A report compiled by the British Transport Police shows that 1,448 sexual offences on trains were reported in 2016 – 2017. This is a significant rise as there were only 650 reported incidents in 2012-2013.
The report found that the majority of assaults were on females aged 13 and above. The report was compiled after a Freedom of Information request was made to British Transport Police by Radio 5 Live, and covers England, Scotland, Wales and the London Underground. Research shows that the majority of offences occur during rush hour with the perpetrators being sober men travelling to and from work, who think they can get away with this type of behaviour.
British Transport Police Detective Chief Inspector Darren Malpas said “When the ‘Report it to stop it’ campaign launched, we fully expected to record a rise in sexual offences and it is pleasing that previously reluctant victims of sexual offences now have the confidence to report this to us. Tackling all forms of unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport is a priority for British Transport Police and we have worked hard in recent years to send a clear message to victims that they will be taken seriously and we will investigate offences.”
The “Report it to stop it” campaign encourages people to report “anything of a sexual nature, including rubbing, groping, masturbation, leering, sexual comments, indecent acts, or someone taking photos of you without your consent”. The campaign was launched in April 2015 after the success of Project Guardian. Project Guardian was launched between British Transport Police, Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police and City of London to try to make London transport free from harassment.
A new phase of the “Report it to stop it” campaign is encouraging victims to report unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport as soon as possible. This will give officers more chance to catch the offender. The campaigns message is that multiple reports of an offender can help police to build a picture of the offender and enabling the Police catches them sooner.
British Transport Police urge victims of sexual offences on trains or the underground to text them in confidence on 61016.