Sexual Harassment on the Transport Network

MQT on 2014-11-19
Session date: 
November 19, 2014
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What progress have you made in your Sexual Harassement awareness campaign on London's Transport Network?


Answer for Sexual Harassment on the Transport Network

Answer for Sexual Harassment on the Transport Network

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Joanne, we obviously take this extremely seriously because this is one crime type that, as you know, has been going up, but part of the reason we think it has been going up is because people’s awareness is being raised.  The activity on Project Guardian, which we launched in 2013 to reduce unwanted sexual harassment on public transport, includes 150,000 leaflets handed out to show people we take it seriously.  There is a hashtag Twitter link for the whole project.  I cannot tell you what it is, unfortunately.  There are police engagement days every month where they focus on this issue and how to tackle it and 2,000 police officers have been trained to help them spot offender behaviour and provide better victim care.  One hundred officers are now undertaking cover patrols and surveys of targeted individuals and that has resulted in 500 detections so far.  A ‘detection’, as you know, is where the suspect is identified and there has been an outcome for sexual crime on the London Transport Network.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Is that MPS officers who have been trained?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That is MPS officers.  There has been a big increase in activity.  One of the results has been a big increase in reports of sexual offences.  There have been 1,639 reports of sexual offences in the 14 months since the project was launched, compared to 1,182 in the 14 months prior to the project.  The hope is that that is because people are reporting it.


Joanne McCartney AM:  We had this discussion when I last raised this in September and we had looked at the figures and London’s own survey showed that fewer women were now reporting than the previous year and so there looks to be an increase not only in reporting but in actual incidents.  I asked you at that meeting to do a proactive campaign similar to New York City’s and you and Peter Hendy [CBE, Commissioner, TfL] - because it was in the TfL period - both said that you were looking at this and that you have been launching a proactive campaign.  I asked about posters going up in the Transport Network and you said, yes, you were going to do that.  My question is actually asking you for an update on the awareness campaign.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  On the posters.  I can tell you there are 150,000 leaflets that have been handed out.  I cannot tell you about posters.  I do not have any information on that.


Joanne McCartney AM:  We thought that this was an actual proactive campaign.  I can tell you that New York City has just launched the second phase of its programme called Sexual Harassment is a Crime in the Subway Too and it has messages played on its boards.  It has station announcements saying that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.  It has all its station staff trained and witnesses are urged to approach them.  It has an online reporting tool, where both people that have been victims and also witnesses can post pictures and it is directly fed into the police.  Is that something that we are going to see in London under your mayoralty, a concerted effort like that?  You talked about a lot of leaflets.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  There is a fair bit of activity going on, on this front.  Whether it exactly resembles the New York campaign ‑‑


Joanne McCartney AM:  It does not look like it does and I am asking you to do that.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ in terms of the number of posters and the visibility of the rhetoric against sexual harassment.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, it is not rhetoric against sexual harassment.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  When I say ‘rhetoric’, I mean announcements on the station and the message being very, very out there in the public realm.  Let me look at what is currently going on and see whether it is adequate.


Joanne McCartney AM:  In September I thought you had taken this on board and were saying you were going to launch something this autumn.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  A fair amount of people would say that 150,000 leaflets is a lot.


Joanne McCartney AM:  That is not a proactive awareness campaign, Mr Mayor, which is what I am calling for.  Will you go away and look at it again and let me know if you are able, under your mayoralty, to actually take a lead on this and do something that has been done in New York City to great effect?


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As I say, we think that there has been a considerable impact from this campaign because the reports of sexual offences have gone up 38%, we think as a result of the greater awareness by officers and the staff of this issue, the training that we now give them and all the various ways in which we are engaging with stakeholder groups who are campaigning against this to raise awareness.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, TfL’s own survey shows that 96% of interviewees say they did not report the incident and so only 4% are reporting.  An awareness campaign is needed.  If we see those figures go up as a result of an awareness campaign, we are going to actually support you in that.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As I say, you are being a little unfair, Joanne, in saying that nothing is going on. 


Joanne McCartney AM:  I am not saying that.  You should do more, a proactive --


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  That I am willing to accept.  Before I commit myself to a gigantic poster campaign, I want to go and look and see just exactly what we have.


Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, in September you told me you would do that.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Let us see how we are getting on.


Joanne McCartney AM:  I will put the question down again in two months’ time.


Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  OK.