Jennette Arnold
London assembly member for North East London — fighting your corner at City Hall

The British Transport Police – in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police Service and Transport for London – recently made 15 arrests during a week of action as part of Project Guardian, the initiative aimed at tackling unwanted sexual behaviour on London’s trains, tubes and buses.

It is estimated that 15% of women are harassed on the London transport network, but 90% of this unwanted behaviour goes unreported. Inspector Ricky Twyford of the British Transport Police and his team – through Project Guardian – 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 criminal activity. As part of this project, Inspector Twyford and his team carry out weeks of action that take proactive steps to seek out cases of sexual harassment and then follow this through with arresting people and, where appropriate, charging them.

Through this, the British Transport Police and their partner organisations aim to improve the levels of reporting among victims of sexual offences, and to create an environment where victims feel supported and able to report their cases to the relevant authorities.

The latest week of action, which ran from Monday 2 December to Sunday 8 December, involved uniformed officers stepping up patrols and advising the travelling public about Project Guardian. Plain clothes officers were also deployed to identify any suspicious behaviour across the transport network. In total 15 people were arrested across the capital in connection with sexual offences, one of which was in relation to a historic sexual assault at Angel LU station in the London Borough of Islington.

I am delighted to support Project Guardian – a terrific collaborative initiative between the British Transport Police, the Metropolitan Police Service and Transport for London – which aims to tackle unwanted sexual behaviour on London’s trains, tubes and buses.

No one should travel around our city in fear of sexual harassment. Safety on the TfL network – particularly for women – is an issue that I take very seriously, and something that I have campaigned long and hard for. The setting up of Project Guardian earlier this year is a significant step in stamping out unwanted sexual behaviour on our transport network once and for all, and proves that we are moving to a place where we take a zero-tolerance approach to this pernicious and unacceptable aspect of travelling around London.

With a team of over two thousand specially-trained police officers and PCSOs, under the leadership of Inspector Twyford and Superintendent Watson, I am confident that the authorities are taking the matter very seriously and that the culture of acceptance when it comes to unwanted sexual behaviour on our transport network will soon be a thing of the past. To this end, I urge anyone who has been made to feel uncomfortable on their train, tube or bus journey – however insignificant it may seem – to report it to the police immediately.

To report an incident of a sexual nature to British Transport Police call 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016 with details of what happened. For an incident that has occurred away from the railway network, call 101. In an emergency always dial 999.

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.