Reports of sexual harassment on London public transport surge by 61%

·2-min read
British Transport Police said some women were facing a ‘hostile environment’ on public transport and have been stepping up patrols.  (PA )
British Transport Police said some women were facing a ‘hostile environment’ on public transport and have been stepping up patrols. (PA )

Reports of sexual harassment on public transport in London have jumped 61% this summer compared to before the pandemic, official figures show.

The rise is reflected across the UK and comes as police forces work to restore the confidence of women in public spaces after the Sarah Everard murder.

In London, there were 313 reports between April and October compared with 194 reports over the same period in 2019 - a 61% increase, according to figures from the British Transport Police (BTP).

BTP estimates that two years ago as few as 4-7% of incidents were reported with women now more willing to call the police over threatening and intimidating behaviour.

Detective Chief Inspector Sarah White from the BTP said: “Sexual harassment is anything that makes you or anybody else feel uncomfortable with a sexual element.

“We need to work together with the community to tackle this behaviour and create this hostile environment to discourage people from behaving in this manner.

“If you look at the root cause of some the behaviours around sexual assault it all stems from sexual harassment.”

Across British Transport Police (BTP) received 421 reports of harassment between April and October, up from 259 over the same period in 2019. That represents a rise of 63%.

Over the past two years BTP has increased its focus on collecting sexual harassment data rather than concentrating only on offences involving sexual assaults.

One victim said she had set herself a “self-imposed curfew” after she was harassed by two young men on the London underground.

Mahalia Fontaine told the BBC: “The men sat next to me and they started making sexual suggestions.

“When I did stand up for myself they got more aggressive - I felt violated.

“After that, I just didn’t feel safe being outside.”

Ms Fontaine said she would be more likely to report now due because of the killings of Sarah Everard who was abducted in Clapahm and Sabina Nessa who died after an attack in Kidbrooke, south east London.

“I feel like I can say something that can be taken seriously,” she added.

Meanwhile a campaign was launched on Wednesday in an effort to tackle sexual harassment on London’s public transport network.

The Transport for London campaign aims to send a “strong message” to offenders there is a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment on London’s transport network.

A series of posters and paid adverts will highlight common forms of harassment such as catcalling, staring and unwanted touching, and will aim to challenge the normalisation of such behaviours.

To coincide with the launch, officers from the Met and British Transport Police were beginning a week of action involving “high visibility” patrols, engaging with passengers about their concerns about sexual harassment.

Between 2019 and 2020 – the latest data available – there were 1,884 sexual offences reported on London’s transport network, the vast majority of which occurred on the Tube.

Read More

COP26 Conference: Planned train strike cancelled days before summit

Big cities can show us the way to a more climate-friendly Britain

Mother of woman whose body was raped by David Fuller speaks out

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting