The number of recorded sexual offences on trains and tubes has spiked by more than double in the past five years, the BBC reports.
Figures from the British Transport Police show that on public transport in England, Scotland and Wales, including the London Underground, there were 1,448 reported sexual offences in 2016/2017. This is a huge increase from the 650 reported incidents in 2012/2013.
Horrifically, the figures obtained in a freedom of information request by BBC Radio 5 Live also show that the majority of assaults were on females aged from just 13 and above. On the London Underground, last year’s stats showed that a lot of the offences took place during rush hour, and were committed by sober men travelling to and from work.
The report is not conclusive on whether there have been more sexual assaults happening on public transport actually taking place, or whether it’s reflective of a better understanding of sexual offences - which could have resulted in more people are gaining the confidence to report their experiences of sexual assault to the police.
Co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, Rachel Krys, tells the BBC that the increase shown in these figures do not necessarily mean that women are more at risk of sexual assault while on the train or tube than five years ago. She thinks that it may be a result of awareness and campaigns like the British Transport Police’s, ‘Report it to stop it’ campaign which aims to encourage victims of sexual violence to come forward in hopes that they bring these kinds of offenders to justice.
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.’
The campaign has been highly praised in its zero-tolerance stance on sexual assault and the support given to sexual assault victims – if you are on the underground or train and feel uncomfortable with somebody’s actions, you can text them in confidence on 61016. BTP are rightfully naming and shaming the perpetrators in attempt to deter others from committing sexual assault crimes on public transport – you can view them here.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.