The number of sexual offences on trains and tubes has more than doubled in the past five years, but there could be a silver lining to this shocking statistic.
British Transport Police received 1,448 reports of assaults from females over 13 in the last year, up 650 from 2012-13, according to new figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live.
But women’s rights campaigners have not reacted how you might expect, instead praising authorities for their efforts in encouraging abuse victims to go to the police.
Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, told the BBC that she believes the rise in reported offences is a direct result of better awareness in how to report offences and does not necessarily suggest that women are more at risk today.
She said: “It is really important that these campaigns continue. When the scale of sexual violence is better understood, police forces take it more seriously and measures can be taken to reduce the risks to women and tackle perpetrators, who for too long had been acting with impunity.”
“Research on the London Underground last year showed that the majority of these offences happen during rush hour, dispelling the myth that this is anything to do with a late-night drinking culture.
“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.”
British Transport Police’s Report It To Stop It campaign launched in April 2015, urging women to report any unwanted sexual behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable, including “rubbing, groping, masturbation, leering, sexual comments, indecent acts, or someone taking photos of you without your consent” as quickly as possible to give police the best possible chance of catching the perpetrator.
“No incident or detail is too small or trivial,” the campaign promises. “What has happened is not your fault. We will always take you seriously and treat you with respect.”
Detective Chief Inspector Darren Malpas insists that “tackling all forms of unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport” remains a priority, as does “sending a clear message to victims that they will be taken seriously”.
The more reports against an offender, the more likely they are to be caught and brought to justice before they can abuse someone else.
If you or a friend suffered from a sexual offence on a train or tube, you can text BTP in confidence on 61016 or call 0800 40 50 40. Dial 999 in an emergency.