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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Nadeem Badshah

At least 33% of women suffer sexual offences while commuting, BTP finds

tube train and platform, blurred
Just over half of women who said they had suffered sexual offending on public transport said other passengers tried to help them. Photograph: William Barton/Alamy

Over a third of women have been subjected to sexual harassment or sexual offences while commuting by train or tube, according to a survey commissioned by British Transport Police (BTP).

It found that 51% of those who have been victims of sexual offending said that other passengers tried to help them, however, only 18% of people who witnessed an incident reported it to police.

The BTP said the crime data, which covers England, Wales and Scotland, also shows that most sexual offending takes place during the evening rush hour period from 5-7pm in busy train carriages.

BTP DCI 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.”

The survey comprised 2,000 British adults who usually commute to work by rail, tube or tram.

BTP has advised commuters that if they witness any inappropriate behaviour such as leering, touching or upskirting to report it by texting 61016 or via the Railway Guardian app.

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.”

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