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There's A Number You Can Text So Police Can Meet You If You've Been Assaulted On Public Transport

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There's A Number You Can Text So Police Can Meet You If You've Been Assaulted On Public Transport

A study compiled by YouGov last year found that more than half of women in London have fallen victim to unwanted sexual behaviour while on public transport.

The same research found a third of women (37 per cent) have been subjected to a stranger deliberately pressing themselves against them, and over one in ten have been flashed by someone they didn't know.

Any woman who has commuted to work, or travelled back late from a night out, will likely have their own story to tell. But the most worrying thing is that 90 per cent of unwanted sexual behaviour incidents still go unreported.

That's where the British Transport Police's number, 61016, comes in.

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The police are just a text away (Credit: Shutterstock)
The police are just a text away (Credit: Shutterstock)

You've no doubt heard the announcements and seen the posters while you're sitting on the train. You know, the ones that say, 'See it, say it, sorted'.

But you might not know the extent of what they're offering - and it's actually pretty neat.

The idea is that if you ever experience or witness any sexual misconduct on the rail network, you can text 61016 and an officer will deal with your issue in real time.

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All they'll need from you is a full account of the incident you're reporting, the time it occurred and the location it happened, alongside any other information you feel comfortable giving, which could help the investigation.

An officer can even come and meet you at the other end of your train journey, if need be.

While many people don't know about it, the service is available across all of the rail network in England, Scotland and Wales, and has been since 2016, meaning you can use it on National Rail trains, the London Underground, the DLR, the Croydon tram and the Emirates Airline.

It'll literally take seconds to send the text, and could mean help is on the way to you in minutes. Plus, it also ensures that others are protected from the perpetrator of the crime.

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The BTP have access to CCTV, witness testimony and traveller data (Credit: Shutterstock)
The BTP have access to CCTV, witness testimony and traveller data (Credit: Shutterstock)

Whatever you report, the BTP promise to get back to you within 24 hours at the latest.

Speaking to Tyla, Detective Chief Inspector Sarah White explains: "If you text us on 61016, the message will come through to our control room who can dispatch officers to a location if required, or put you in touch with an officer to speak at a convenient time."

She adds that the number is a great way to "discreetly" contact the police whenever you feel the need, explaining that no concern is "too small or trivial".

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"Unwanted sexual behaviour is anything that makes a person feel uncomfortable. You can report anything of a sexual nature, including rubbing, groping, masturbation, leering, sexual comments and indecent acts," she says.

"You don't have to prove that it was a criminal offence or that it was committed intentionally, as our officers will investigate that.

"Each report we receive provides us with valuable information which we can use to build a picture of an offender. Often it allows us to notice a pattern of offending behaviour and we will take action. We will always take you seriously."

The transport police are ready to meet you if needed (Credit: Shutterstock)
The transport police are ready to meet you if needed (Credit: Shutterstock)
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When you text your concerns to the number, the rail network have access to over 150,000 CCTV cameras across the railway network, and they can also help by extracting information about passengers and their journeys and gathering witness statements, in order to bring suspects to court.

There is also intel from covert officers who are on trains across the country, and are "out gathering intelligence across the network every day" - trained especially to identify suspects.

While the BTP doesn't cover buses or any public transport which isn't on the rail network, you can still get help if you need by contacting your local police force directly, or calling the non-emergency number, 101.

If anything is an immediate emergency, on either the rail network or the bus, you should avoid texting or calling any non-urgent numbers and ring 999 instead.

You can text 61016 to report any crime while on public transport (Credit: British Transport Police)
You can text 61016 to report any crime while on public transport (Credit: British Transport Police)

Research has found that reports of sexual harassment on the London underground increased by 42 per cent from 2016-2019 - a trend also echoed across other cities around the country.

And while that sounds depressing, to some extent, it's actually promising, as it means more women are coming forward, and identifying inappropriate sexual behaviour when they experience it.

In response to the upward trend in reports, the British Transport Police has almost tripled the number of officers it has trained to investigate sexual offences across England, Scotland and Wales, meaning there are more officers than ever on hand waiting to respond when you need them.

Reporting sexual crimes can feel like a terrifying experience, and often, as women, we're taught to shrug such behaviour off.

But with help just a text away, here's hoping that's about to change. The more people who know about this initiative, the better.

You can text 61016 whenever you see or experience a crime - sexual or otherwise - on the UK's rail network. If you'd rather speak directly on the phone, you can ring 0800405040.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: UK News, Life, travel

Joanna Freedman
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