11 APRIL 2017

Ninety per cent of people who experience unwanted sexual behaviour on London’s transport network don’t report it, something that I am determined to change.

But what is unwanted sexual behaviour? It’s anything that makes you feel uncomfortable and includes rubbing, groping, masturbation and sexual comments. Reading that list you may wonder why some don’t report these experiences, clearly they’re unacceptable – but it’s not that simple.

Some victims see this behaviour as part of everyday life, others are shocked, preferring to forget it happened and for some, they don’t report because they don’t think the offender will be caught and brought to justice.

We’re trying to tackle these misconceptions head on through our powerful new ‘Every Report Builds a Picture’ campaign film.

Building on our 2015 ‘Report It to Stop It’ film, which amassed 13 million YouTube views, the new film highlights how every report can help to build a picture of an offender, helping the police identify and arrest them. The film also contains a message to offenders, warning they could be caught at any time.

The film shows a businessman presenting to a room of colleagues but we can’t see his face as it’s pixelated. After a few seconds, while the presentation continues, we hear voices of different women recalling their experiences of unwanted sexual behavior on the transport network. As each story’s heard, the pixilation reduces to reveal more of the man’s face until we have a clear picture of who he really is. At the end of the film the man is taken from the meeting by police with his colleagues at a loss for words.

People in a boardroom at work

But how do police actually catch these predatory criminals? Every time someone reports unwanted sexual behaviour to the police, they investigate. There are lots of tools they will use to track down and identify the suspect. They may have done something similar before so police may be able to link cases and understand the suspect’s movements. There may be CCTV available, witnesses to the offence and the offender may already be known to the police. Every report really can play a huge role in helping to get the individuals who commit sexual crimes off our network, and stop them preying on any more of our passengers.

This campaign is built on strong foundations. In 2013 we set up the Project Guardian partnership with British Transport Police (BTP), the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and City of London Police (CoLP) with the single, long term aim of eradicating unwanted sexual behaviour from the London’s transport network.

Since we’ve been actively highlighting that unwanted sexual behaviour is a crime and urging those who have experienced it to come forward, reports have doubled from 1,023 in 2012/13 to 2,087 in 2015/16. Arrests have also increased by 36 per cent over the past two years from 406 in 2014/15 to 554 in 2015/16.

Report unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport by texting what, where and when to 61016This campaign is something which I am extremely passionate about. I hope by really highlighting how every single report builds a picture, it’ll encourage more victims to come forward so we can catch offenders, bring them to justice, and totally eliminate these crimes from London’s transport network.

To report unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport, text 61016 or call police on 101 and give details of what, where and when.

You can find out more about the campaign here.

Siwan Hayward, TfL’s Head of Transport PolicingABOUT AUTHOR 

Siwan is TfL’s Head of Transport Policing, and deputy director for enforcement and on-street operations.