BTP urging teenage girls urged to report sexual harassment

British Transport Police (BTP) is urging teenage girls to report sexual harassment after new figures released by the force showed a 25 per cent increase in reported sexual offences last year.

May 30, 2024
By Paul Jacques

However, BTP believes that many incidents are still under-reported by teenage girls.

In 2022, 663 teenage girls reported sexual offences or harassment to BTP. In 2023, this rose to 886 reports.

BTP says the increase is likely to reflect improved awareness that they can report any type of sexual behaviour that makes them uncomfortable.

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Paul Furnell said: “We’re receiving more and more reports about sexual harassment, as people have had enough of this disgusting behaviour and know we prioritise tackling it. We use reports from multiple passengers to secure the strongest possible sentences for sex offenders.

“Sadly, we know that many women feel that they have no option but to put up with sexual harassment.”

One of the real stories behind the statistics is brought to life in 19-year-old Lex Gibbon’s new single, ‘Audacity’. She wrote the song after a man followed her through an underground train station, verbally abused her and touched her.

At the time, she had not heard of BTP’s text 61016 service and did not report the incident. Ms Gibbon later discovered text 61016 and approached British Transport Police to collaborate on the launch of her single to raise awareness.

BTP believes that many girls have experienced similar behaviour and, like Ms Gibbon, are unaware that it can be reported to police.

It added: “As shown in the song’s lyrics, police believe that many girls blame themselves for what happened. Today, officers are reassuring victims that sexual harassment is never their fault and urging everyone to save text 61016 in their phone.”

Mr Furnell said: “The man’s behaviour as described by Lex is completely unacceptable. I want everyone to know that acting like this on the rail network has serious consequences.

“As well as our uniformed and plain clothes officers, 150,000 CCTV cameras and your fellow passengers are watching you.

“Our officers are on patrol 24/7 and can meet trains at the next station. If it happens on the tube and you don’t have signal, you can speak to staff or text us at the next station.

“Nothing is too small to report and sexual harassment is never your fault.”

Siwan Hayward, TfL’s Director of Security, Policing and Enforcement, said: “We are deeply sorry that Lex experienced this horrific incident on our network. The safety of women and girls is an absolute priority for us and we are committed to tackling sexual harassment, working closely with the police to make our capital’s transport network a hostile place for offenders.

“We are actively promoting the importance of reporting crimes that we know are underreported, and welcome the increase in reporting of sexual offences as evidence that more women and girls and bystanders have the confidence to come forward and report experiences, knowing that they will be taken seriously and that offenders will be pursued.

“We encourage anyone who experiences or witnesses this behaviour to report it to the police or a member of staff so that we can take action against offenders and put the right measures in place to prevent this from happening.”

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