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Commuting to Work by Train? Advice for Travelling Safely in Light of Rise in Assaults

4 January 2018
 January 4, 2018

The British Transport Police, who are responsible for the safety and security of the public on our railways, state that using trains is the safest form of travel in Britain. It’s how nearly 10% of us commute to and from work.

However, reported sexual offences on trains have more than doubled in the last five years according to statistics obtained by a recent Freedom of Information request.

British Transport Police report that 1,448 offences were reported in 2016-17, up from 650 in 2012-2013. The statistics, which covers the national rail network and London’s Underground system shows the majority of the incidents were sexual assaults on females aged 13 and above.

The report is consistent with data released by the BTP last year which saw “violence against the person” incidents had increased by 12.5 per cent year-on-year. In seven cases, the victim was killed.

The rise in reported assaults, particularly sexual offences doesn’t come as a surprise to some, citing it’s possibly a better awareness on how to report offences among victims, rather than a rise in incidents.

Report it to Stop it

The BTP launched their highly publicised ‘Report it to Stop it’ Campaign back in 2015 to encourage passengers to report unwanted sexual behaviour to the police.

After conducting research on the London Underground, it was found that the majority of offences happen during rush hour – the busy commuting times for workers. This dispels the myth that it’s anything to do with late night drunken behaviour.

As Rachel Krys, co-director of the Charity End Violence Against Women Coalition concludes, “These figures showed that it is sober men, travelling to and from work who thought they were entitled to assault women passengers, and that they would get away with it.”

Detective Chief Inspector Darren Malpas from BTP added, “When the ‘Report it to stop it’ campaign launched, we fully expected to record a rise in sexual offences and it is pleasing that previously reluctant victims of sexual offences now have the confidence to report this to us.

“Tackling all forms of unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport is a priority for British Transport Police and we have worked hard in recent years to send a clear message to victims that they will be taken seriously and we will investigate offences.”

Travelling Safely on Trains

61016BTP say if you are a victim of a sexual offence on trains or the underground you can text them in confidence on 61016. Of course, in an emergency, you should always dial 999.

Should you be equipped with a personal alarm or a dedicated personal safety mobile application, raising the alarm this way will also quickly and discreetly call for help, thus not alerting your aggressor. Skyguard aren’t just there for office hours and the commute home. Our Incident Management Centre is ready to respond 24 hours a day.

Here is the BTP’s advice on how to empower yourself to stay safe whilst travelling.

Be prepared

  • Plan your journey before you travel.
  • Make sure someone knows when and where you are travelling. Carry a mobile phone (with Skyguard’s application or a personal safety device) in case you need to contact them.
  • If you have restricted movement, check beforehand that each station can provide you the access you need.
  • When travelling in a group, arrange a meeting point in case you get separated and supply everyone with the same contact number.

Stay aware

  • Be aware of your surroundings and look confident about where you are going.
  • Avoid poorly lit areas and try to stay in sight of CCTV cameras or close to other people.
  • Avoid listening to headphones, as they can prevent you from being aware of what’s happening around you.
  • Keep your own belongings close to you and make sure valuables are kept out of sight.
  • Report unattended bags or packages immediately.

On the train

  • When you board, choose a carriage where you feel comfortable.
  • Protect your privacy. Giving out personal details on a mobile phone or displaying them on a luggage label, document or laptop could alert thieves.
  • Note where the emergency alarm is located in case you need to use it.

Alcohol

  • The BTP advise only drinking in moderation when travelling, as it is harder to be aware of your surroundings while drunk and you’re more likely to become a victim of crime.
  • It is an offence to be drunk on a train, and you could be served a Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) if the BTP believe you are drunk or have committed an alcohol-related offence.
  • You could also be refused permission to travel if you are drunk.

Car park safety

  • If someone is meeting you at the station, make sure you know where they will be waiting. Some stations have several exits and car parks.
  • Try to choose a parking bay close to an exit if you will be returning in the dark.
  • Before leaving your vehicle, ensure it is securely locked and that all personal possessions are locked away.
  • If you take a taxi from the station, only use reputable taxi or mini cab companies.