I had the pleasure of visiting Superintendent Nicky Watson and Inspector Ricky Twyford from the British Transport Police (BTP), who are leading on Project Guardian (#ProjGuardian) – a collaborative programme between the BTP, TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police, aimed at tackling sexual assault and unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport in London.
It is estimated that 15% of women are harassed on the London transport network, but 90% of this behaviour goes unreported. Ricky Twyford and his team want to change this by increasing the number of people reporting sexual harassment and increasing the number of people arrested and charged as a result of their intimidating and, sometimes, criminal activity.
Importantly, Project Guardian works closely with organisations – namely The Everyday Sexism Project, End Violence Against Women Coalition and Hollaback London – that are also doing great work on this issue.
I am delighted that Inspector Ricky Twyford, Superintendent Nicky Watson and the rest of the team at #ProjGuardian are leading on this very important issue and making travel safer for everyone. No one should travel around our city in fear.
So, what does #ProjGuardian mean practically for you, as people who use the London transport network? The key messages of Ricky’s work are that:
1. You don’t need to tolerate unwanted sexual behaviour on London transport;
2. If you choose to report any incident of a sexual nature to the police – which I encourage you to do – you will always be believed and taken seriously;
3. If someone has made you feel uncomfortable on your tube or bus journey – however insignificant it may seem – reporting it to the police can prevent this happening to another passenger;
4. If you notice anybody acting suspiciously on your journey, you should tell the police who can investigate it to pre-empt any potential actions by that person;
5. The British Transport Police care about its passengers. They do not tolerate unwanted sexual behaviour of any kind on the transport network;
6. There are over two thousand specially-trained police officers and PCSOs dedicated to patrolling the transport, and they can use information from your reports to help them make your journeys safer.
Reporting an incident could not be easier.
You can text 61016, freephone 0800 405040, dial 101, and in some cases tweet @BTP_UK (although it might take longer to receive a response via twitter).
Don’t let people get away with unwanted sexual behaviour. Report it. Now.