The campaign specifically aims to bring attention to what constitutes sexual harassment and to encourage reporting of incidents.
Behaviours such as wolf-whistling, leering/staring or deliberately invading personal space are forms of sexual harassment and research has shown that many people are not aware of this. By informing people and raising awareness, it is hoped that people will gain the confidence to report sexual harassment if they experience or witness it.
The national campaign is also in conjunction with the charity Crimestoppers and the British Transport Police and will also be featured by other transport operators such as Transport for London.
Recent research has revealed that there is a lack of awareness regarding the seriousness of non-physical forms of sexual harassment which can be both distressing and frightening for those who encounter it. The research involved more than 2,500 people and was undertaken for the Rail Delivery Group by 2CV and discloses that only 30% of passengers realise that wolf-whistling constitutes sexual harassment. The survey also revealed that just 37% of passengers recognise that inappropriate staring and only 39% recognising that somebody sitting or standing too close in a relatively quiet carriage constitutes sexual harassment.
Research by the Government also shows that 84% of women and 60% of men have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their life. The need to tackle this serious issue has brought the rail industry together to form the campaign which will see posters on trains and also in stations as well as on screens and across social media all of which are encouraging people to report when they do not feel safe. The campaign will send a clear message to perpetrators that this behaviour is not accepted and will not be tolerated on the railway.
Promoting a clear understanding of what sexual harassment looks like throughout the rail industry will help bring confidence to those who witness or experience it to speak up and also so that perpetrators can be held accountable. British Transport Police are very much in support of reporting as it will provide them with greater opportunities to identify and punish offenders.
In 2021 British Transport Police have virtually tripled the number of officers who are specifically trained to investigate sexual offences throughout Great Britain, working as both plain-clothed and uniformed patrols throughout the network.
Staff working throughout the rail network will also be reminded that they play an important role in keeping passengers and fellow team members safe by using the following steps – ‘Be aware, Be concerned, Listen, Reassure and Report’ These steps will be used throughout the rail industry by internal champions also known as a point of contact via information in the form of videos and leaflets.
The campaign also clearly informs passengers that they can contact British Transport Police via text to report any instances of sexual harassment they witness. Passengers can do this by sending a short message with information about what they have encountered to 61016. When the text is received the sender will get a response to let them know what is being done to deal with the incident, in some circumstances, a member of the British Transport Police may meet them at the next station or at their destination. Witness’s reporting incidents can also help British Transport Police with the identification of perpetrators, which may reduce further harm being done to other people in the future.
The railway’s sexual harassment line, which is run by Crimestoppers, can also be called on 0800 783 0137 if you wish to report an incident on the railway which can be passed on to the police anonymously.
Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Every form of sexual harassment is serious and actions like leering, sitting unnecessarily close or making sexual comments are unacceptable on our railway and in wider society. As an industry, we’re committed to ensuring there is no unsafe space on the railway by showing the small number of perpetrators that they are not welcome on trains and at stations. The British Transport Police will hold them to account to make train journeys safer for everyone.”
Lucy D’Orsi, Chief Constable of British Transport Police, said: “Sadly, sexual harassment in public has become an acceptable norm, which is one reason why it goes unreported. We all need to play our part in changing this.
“This campaign is about educating people on what is not acceptable and how to report it, so we can work together to make the rail network a hostile environment for sexual harassment. Each report we receive provides us with valuable information which we can use to build an accurate picture of an offender and take action.
“We urge anyone who experiences or witnesses sexual harassment to text us on 61016, whether something is happening at the time or has happened recently. Our control room can dispatch officers to a location if required or put you in touch with an officer to speak at a convenient time. Save 61016 in your phone, so you have the number to hand should you ever need us.
“Everyone should be able to travel without fear of harassment. No report is too small or trivial, and we will always take you seriously.”
Mark Hallas, Chief Executive of the charity Crimestoppers, said: “Our charity believes that everyone has the right to feel safe, and that includes when travelling on public transport. Sexual harassment must be stamped out which is why we fully support this important campaign. If you are uncomfortable about reporting someone you know who is responsible for sexual harassment, remember that you can speak up completely anonymously by calling the railway’s sexual harassment line which is powered by Crimestoppers on 0800 783 0137. We guarantee no one will ever know you contacted us and you will be helping to protect others from the harm caused by this unacceptable criminal behaviour.”
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “No one should ever be made to feel unsafe on our railways, and we’re committed to ensuring our network is safe and secure for everyone.
“Alongside the work of the Department’s Violence Against Women and Girls Transport champions, this campaign will help to drive positive change, educate people and ensure we all play our part to make transport safer.”
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