Transport for London launched a campaign last Wednesday in attempts to reduce the amount of sexual harassment that takes place on the Tube.
Between 2019 and 2020, 1,884 sexual offences were reported on London’s transport network, the vast majority of which occurred on the Tube. To make matters worse, 2020 data suggested that up to 90% of offences are not even reported.
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.
Alongside the campaign, a week’s worth of “high visibility” patrols from the Met and British Transport Police aim to engage with passengers about their concerns about sexual harassment.
Heidi Alexander, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, said that “any incident of sexual harassment on our public transport network is one too many” and it is a “top priority” to ensure women and girls feel safe while travelling.
She said: “This new campaign sends a strong message to offenders that unwanted sexual behaviour is never acceptable in any form, and encourages anyone who has experienced or witnessed it to report it. We know that women and girls often feel unsure about reporting these types of behaviours, but if it makes you uncomfortable, it’s serious.”
The steps being made by TFL are also in an attempt to attract awareness from others in power. Despite around 180,000 people giving feedback to Priti Patel’s consultation on gender-based violence in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder, Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined to back calls to make misogyny a hate crime earlier this month and insisted there was “adequate legislation” to protect women and girls.
Dominique Ioannou, British Transport Police’s chief inspector for the London Underground, urged people to “not do nothing” if they witness harassment on public transport, adding that the bystander effect can “really magnify the effect” of harassment for victims.
She said: “If you are on a train carriage or a platform or concourse and you witness this type of behaviour, my plea would be don’t do nothing. Don’t put yourself at risk – it is a highly personal choice – but don’t do nothing. It can really magnify the effect on victims when you are surrounded by people.”