Sexual Harassment on the Transport Network

MQT on 2014-10-22
Session date: 
October 22, 2014
Question By: 
Valerie Shawcross
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Sexual harassment on the transport network is rising. Do you still believe that the increase is due to more people reporting instances of harassment?


Answer for Sexual Harassment on the Transport Network

Answer for Sexual Harassment on the Transport Network

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Increases in the number of recorded offences were anticipated and are considered a positive result of Project Guardian. Launched in July 2013, Guardian aims to reduce unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport in London.  One of the priorities of the project is to increase awareness and confidence in reporting this behaviour to the police, particularly those offences which are often unreported such as sexual touching, exposure, outraging public decency, and harassment.


In the 14 months since the project launched, there have been 1639 reports of sexual offences, compared to 1182 for the 14 months prior to the project. This is a 38% increase in reported crime. 


We have actively promoted our activity and any significant prosecution outcomes via media releases, to reassure the public that we take unwanted sexual behaviour very seriously.  These cases have generated significant coverage across a range of media outlets ( including The Guardian, The Times, BBC, Channel 4, and Glamour Magazine).


Alongside our media approach, extensive social media and face to face engagement has taken place, again to explain to our passengers that we take very unwanted sexual behaviour very seriously, and encourage them to report.  Activity includes:

  • police engagement days each month
  • over 150,000 leaflets handed out which explain how seriously we take unwanted sexual behaviour
  • the creation of a hashtag for the project, to link all twitter activity, encourage the public to continue the conversation, and find reassurance in peers who have experienced similar unwanted behaviour (#projguardian)
  • A series of Twitter chats with Everyday Sexism – where its 90000 followers were invited to ask about the Project Guardian initiative
  • A number of Facebook posts by TfL, all of which have generated over 100 likes/shares


There have been increases in reporting immediately after bursts of social media and engagement activity. This correlation, alongside our activity and the increasing awareness of Project Guardian, makes us confident the increase in reported unwanted sexual behaviour is due to an increased confidence in reporting. 


A new proactive communication campaign to tackle unwanted sexual behaviour on our network is already being developed. The campaign is scheduled for 2015, and will aim to reassure passengers that we take unwanted sexual behaviour extremely seriously, encourage them to report it to the police, and assure them that the police will also take it seriously and investigate.


In addition, over the next 12 months Project Guardian, working through London Transport Museum’s Safety and Citizenship scheme, is rolling out a programme to London secondary schools.


While we are confident this increase is due to increased reporting, we have also focused on perpetrators to demonstrate that such behaviour and offending will be dealt with.  Since the project launched, there has been regular enforcement periods of action, and over 500 detections (i.e. where a suspect has been identified and there has been an outcome, e.g. a suspect charged) for sexual crime on the London transport network.