Men Arrested Over ‘Indecent’ Pictures On The Tube

platformWe thought news of the arrest of three men for taking ‘upskirt’ pictures of women on public transport earlier this month seemed like a good time to remind London’s commuters of Project Guardian.

Launched last year, Project Guardian is an ongoing collaboration between the BTP, Everyday Sexism, End Violence against Women Coalition and Hollaback London which tackles unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport. Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates said last year:

“We have had around 5,000 stories from women of all ages describing sexism, harassment and assault on the transport network, from unwanted sexual comments and demands to groping and public masturbation, from being followed and harassed to being photographed against their will.”

What exactly counts as unwanted sexual behaviour? Basically, anything (including upskirt photography) from lewd comments or being followed right through to flashing and groping. You might feel intimidated by that guy who sits right opposite you in an empty carriage and stares but think reporting it is a bit OTT. In fact, BTP say even incidents such as this are considered ‘intelligence’ and can help build up a picture of abusers’ patterns of behaviour. Project Guardian Inspector Ricky Twyford said:

“We received a text message to our text service recently that someone had seen a male filming up women’s skirts on a Tube train. She didn’t know any more information than that, but that’s a vital piece of intelligence because it tells us a description of that person, where and when they were offending, and if we had another couple of reports of a similarly-described male, but perhaps on a different Tube line, we would be able to start painting a picture of where that person was offending and deploy officers appropriately.”

It’s not just about raising awareness, but also encouraging women to actually report it — a TfL survey previously revealed that 15% of women and girls had experienced harassment but 90% of them had not reported it to police. The reasons for not reporting an incident aren’t at all surprising. Victims feeling that they would be making a fuss about nothing, that it was their fault for wearing a short skirt, that sexual harassment is somehow an inevitable part of being a woman on public transport.

The BTP’s line is pretty clear — it’s not normal and it’s not acceptable, while a 31% increase in reported sex crimes on public transport suggests more women feel the same way. 

If you’re travelling on public transport and you experience (or witness) unwanted sexual behaviour, text 61016, call freephone 0800 40 50 40 or find a police officer in the station. The BTP emphasise that you will be always be believed and taken seriously.

Photo by Mark D Baynham in the Londonist Flickr pool.

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  • hostile_17

    That all sounds fair… but building “intelligence” because someone stared *is* OTT. It sounds creepy in reverse.

    • http://oxocubeeditorial.blogspot.com BethPH

      It’s not so much the staring on its own they’re talking about but if you combined it with sitting right next to a woman in an otherwise empty train it’s pretty intimidating. In fact, I think a lot of men would find it intimidating too!

  • Anon in Basingstoke

    I had a man harassing me on a Southwest train 2 years ago. It was 2 days after Valentine’s Day. I was in the end part of the carriage and there were two other guys. No one said a thing. He sat next to me on the side-by-side seats, getting really close and breathing down me. He was also being very rude to me, very angry. I remembered when it was because I thought he must be in a bad mood because he’s not getting anything. I was really intimidated by him (I recognised him before as standing on the same platform) and the next morning I reported it to the train staff. They did nothing. They just said to tell them if he does it again. It really shook me up. I saw him a bit later – he avoided the part of the platform I stand on and walked down further. Then, forward to that December just before Christmas. I was on a much later train due to going out and having drinks with ex-colleagues. I heard commotion coming from the middle of the carriage. I eventually turned around. It was him! He was intimidating some other girl (another dark-haired girl) and because it was in the middle of the whole carriage with so many others around, other commuters were telling him off! He got off the train and the guards had him and the police were on their way and I also saw the guard and told them what happened to me with the same man. I don’t know what ever happened as I was not around when the police actually arrived, but I really hope he got what was coming to him as he was very nasty! I did see him a couple of times after that and even that week. Then I started to get a different train.

    • Anon in Basingstoke

      I felt that the train staff did not take me seriously when I originally reported it. What can they do in these situations? No one else was around or stood up to him.

  • Guy2p

    Finding out that more and more female friends are being verbally targeted on the street at all times of the day. There’s a difference between asking for a persons number on a date and harassing someone because “you walk sexy.” The summer seems to bring out the bugs in every sense.