Crackdown On Unwanted Sexual Behaviour On Our Trains

Wimbledon station is targeted in police operation

A police crackdown on unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport has targeted Wimbledon station.

Around 15% of women are thought to have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour on the London transport network, and the week-long Project Guardian operation was aimed at tackling the problem.

The capital-wide initiative involved 185 plain clothes police and uniformed officers stepping up patrols between 7am and 11pm from July 22-July 29.

Wimbledon station was one of 12 mainline stations included in the iniative, which involved British Transport Police (BTP), the Metropolitan Police (MPS), City of London Police and Transport for London (TfL).

During the week of action nine people were arrested across London for sexual offences, and officers gathered significant intelligence and provided high visibility reassurance policing to travellers as part of the operation.

According to the TfL safety and security survey, around 15% of women have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour on the network, with around 90% not reporting it to police. One of the most common reasons for not reporting it is because they didn't think it was serious enough.

Project Guardian focuses on increasing awareness and confidence amongst the public to report unwanted sexual behaviour to the police or members of staff, particularly those offences which are often unreported, such as sexual touching, exposure, outraging public decency, lewd comments, leering and harassment.

There are around 2,000 police officers and PCSOs dedicated to patrolling London's transport network, who have been specially trained to deal with these types of cases. The Everyday Sexism Project, End Violence against Women Coalition and Hollaback London have been key advisers to the project team.

Every day last week BTP and Everyday Sexism held a Twitter chat using the hashtag #ProjGuardian to raise awareness of the campaign and encourage people to share and report incidents that have happened to them on the transport network.

Superintendent Nicki Watson, British Transport Police said: "We want London’s transport network to be free from any kind of unwanted sexual behaviour.

"This project is about giving victims the confidence to come forward and talk to us, no matter how minor they think the offence has been, so that we can support them and target offenders."

The latest annual crime figures from the MPS and BTP show crime on TfL's transport system is at its lowest ever level - having fallen 2.3 per cent compared to last year. There are now just 8.9 crimes per million passenger journeys on the transport system, down from 9.4 in 2011/12.

Siwan Hayward, Acting Director of Community, Safety, Enforcement and Policing, TfL said: "We care about our passengers and every journey they make, and we will not tolerate unwanted sexual behaviour of any kind on our transport network. If someone has made you feel uncomfortable, for example touched you in an inappropriate manner, please tell the police or a member of our staff. It will help them to not only target the perpetrator, but also help prevent it happening to someone else.

"Overall our transport network is a safe, low crime environment. Over ten million passengers use our public transport services each day with very few ever experiencing or witnessing crime. We want every journey to be safe and feel safe."

Chief Superintendent Sultan Taylor, Safer Transport Command, said: "We want to make sure that any kind of sexual offence that occurs on the transport network is investigated and I would urge people to immediately come forward and report their concerns to the police to enable us to bring offenders to justice.

"Our policing partnership approach is designed to protect and reassure passengers that the MPS, BTP and TfL will not tolerate any incidents of unwanted sexual behaviour and we do all we can to ensure safe and secure journeys for all."

Joan Smith, co-chair of the Mayor of London's Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Panel, said: "Being able to use public transport without fear of intimidation is a basic and essential right. A small but significant number of women have been subjected to harassment and other forms of illegal behaviour, and a high percentage is going unreported because women fear they won't be taken seriously.

"We need projects like this to highlight to all women and girls that such behaviour will not be tolerated. It's a criminal offence that absolutely should be reported."

If you choose to report any incident of a sexual nature to the police or a member of TfL staff, you will be always be believed and taken seriously. You can call British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016 with details of what happened. For incidents that take place away from the railway, dial 101. In an emergency always call 999.

The operation involved officers carrying out patrols on the London Underground network at the following locations:

- Piccadilly line between Green Park and Holborn

- Victoria line between Victoria and Highbury and Islington

- Central line between Oxford Circus and Liverpool Street

- Central line between Liverpool Street and Leyton

- Jubilee line between London Bridge and West Ham

- Northern line between Camden Town and Tottenham Court Road

- Northern line between Camden Town and London Bridge

Officers carried out patrols at the following main line stations:

- Bromley, Clapham, Euston, Kings Cross, Lewisham, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Paddington, Richmond, Victoria, Waterloo, Wimbledon.

- London Overground between Wandsworth Road and Surrey Quays.

July 30, 2013