Man banned from approaching women on public transport after 'terrifying' sexual assault

Kristaps Berzins has been banned from approaching women on public transport. (BTP/PA)

A man has been banned from approaching women on public transport after carrying out a "terrifying" sexual assault on a train.

Kristaps Berzins, 34, pleaded guilty to the charges last Thursday and was jailed for seven months, ordered to sign the sex offenders register for seven years and pay compensation of £300. On top of this, he was issued with a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention order which forbids him from sitting next to or across from, approaching, touching or communicating with any lone female on public transport.

The court was told Berzins sat next to a young woman on a train from Birmingham to Manchester on 30 June last year. Despite the woman wearing headphones he attempted to talk to her and made inappropriate comments.

He then became increasingly aggressive eventually escalating to him sexually assaulting the woman.

The woman escaped to another part of the train when Berzins went to the toilet where she reported what happened to the British Transport Police (BTP).

Investigating officer PC Molly Brunton Cole said: "This was a terrifying encounter for the young woman who bravely reported the incident and supported the investigation. Thankfully now Berzins is one more sexual predator off the streets."

How you can help

The case highlights the scale of the problem facing many women on public transport.

According to a survey carried out by the BTP over a third of women have been sexually harassed while on their commute to work, with the evening rush hour accounting for most of the offences that take place on trains. The survey found half of the women who had been victims of assault had been helped by other passengers but only one-fifth of those who witnessed the crimes reported it to the police.

One in three women say they've been sexually assaulted during their daily commute. (PA)
One in three women say they've been sexually assaulted during their daily commute. (PA)

British Transport Police advises a number of ways that anyone on public transport can be an "active bystander" if they see anything that makes them uncomfortable.

  • Speak up. If you see anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, speak to a member of staff or police. Contact British Transport Police via the Railway Guardian app or by texting 61016. In an emergency, call 999.

  • Interrupt. You don't need to confront anyone or wait for a situation to escalate. As soon as you see something that makes you uncomfortable, you can help by doing something small and subtle to defuse the situation. In some cases, if it is safe to do so, standing between a person causing harm and a victim might be enough to stop what is happening: place something in the overhead racks; get up to look at the station map; take a walk down the carriage to stretch your legs

  • Speak to the victim, reassure them, and offer them a subtle way out of the situation. If you’re not sure what to say, how about: 'Are you OK?' or 'Would you like my seat?'

  • If you feel able to speak to the person causing the problem, speak calmly to them. You could say something unrelated like “What’s the next stop?”

  • Find your friends – If you have seen the problem, others will have too. Ask for help and don’t be surprised when others join you.

Click here on the BTP site for more advice

What is a Sexual Harm Prevention order?

A Sexual Harm Prevention order can be put in place by a judge to prevent a person from engaging in a particular activity. The orders can be made entirely at the judge's own discretion, they do not need to be requested by the prosecution or victim.

Judges have a wide scope for the rules they can place on the convicted person but they must ensure whatever they order is proportionate, reduces risk to the public and can be policed. Orders usually ban the convicted person from taking up a job in a particular field or from engaging in a certain activity on the internet. Breaching the order is a criminal offence and can result in jail time.

They are similar to Community Protection Notice's and Criminal Behaviour Orders which place restrictions on people due to antisocial behaviour rather than sexual harm.

Read more: