New London TravelWatch research on personal security highlights the need to make it easier to report incidents and build trust in the reporting process

20 July 2021

Transport providers and the Police need to make it easier to report incidents which threaten transport users’ personal security as well as building trust in the reporting process, according to new London TravelWatch research* published today. The watchdog also wants the Mayor of London to build on his Women’s Night Safety Charter with a new strategy for night-time safety that includes the transport network.

The issue of personal safety while travelling has always been high on the agenda for transport users, but it has been in the spotlight in recent months following the murder of Sarah Everard in March. Today’s research shows that:

  • 53% of London transport users believe that it is neither easy nor straightforward to report a crime on public transport
  • 64% of London transport users say they would feel more confident in responding to a crime or unsafe situation if they had more information about how to help
  • 33% of London transport users see the possibility that their report will not be taken seriously as a significant barrier to reporting a crime on public transport
  • Late at night is generally seen as the least safe period to travel
  • Young people, women, BAME passengers and disabled people were at greater risk of victimisation
  • Nearly 3 in 10 victims of crime avoided the mode of transport in question afterwards
  • Nearly 80% would use an app to report an incident
  • The British Transport Police are mainly seen as there to deal with terrorism rather than hate crime, sexual harassment or anti-social behaviour

London TravelWatch recommendations to improve personal security for people travelling around London

The transport industry must work with policing authorities to:

1) Build Trust and Empower people

  • Convince people that it’s worth making a report, and that it will be followed up and taken seriously
  • Reassess the tone of communications and messaging to ensure that they build trust in the reporting process and empower all people involved to act, whether they are directly involved or bystanders

2) Commit to public education campaigns

  • Convince and educate people that the British Transport Police (BTP) and Metropolitan Police are there for all incidents, not just terrorism.

3) Agree on a ‘playbook’ for bystanders

  • Create a clear set of simple actions that bystanders can safely take to support victims in the moment or after an incident takes place.

4) Make use of technology

  • Make it easy, quick and straightforward to report an incident or crime via an app that people find convenient.
    Explore how CCTV and video footage can be better used to encourage reporting and evidence gathering
The Mayor of London should:

5) Improve The Travelling Environment

  • Co-ordinate a new strategy for night-time safety that includes the transport network, building on the Women’s Night Safety Charter
  • Ensure there are frequent services so people don’t have to wait too long for the next train or bus

London TravelWatch Director, Emma Gibson commented: “Our research has highlighted that there is much for transport companies, the Police and the Mayor to do to tackle the concerns people have about personal security when moving around London.”

Emma continued: “It is concerning that over half of London transport users believe that it is neither easy nor straightforward to report a crime on public transport. It should be quick, easy and convenient to report, and those who witness incidents should feel informed and confident in how to act. Our research also shows how important it is to educate people that the BTP and Metropolitan Police are there for all incidents, not just terrorism and encourage people to report cases of sexual harassment and racism. These actions are key if we are to help women, people from minority ethnic communities and other transport users feel safer while travelling around London, particularly late at night.”

Alongside this research, London TravelWatch and the Young Women’s Trust conducted a focus group with young women who travel in London, all of whom felt safety was a key factor when planning journeys in London and felt more could be done to help women travel safely.

Caroline Bernard, Director of Communications at Young Women’s Trust said: “Feeling safe when travelling is really important to young women and hearing their experiences is vital. We know that safety is an important factor for many young women when deciding when and where to travel and even whether to take certain jobs. We hope these findings will help raise awareness of the issues that affect young women when travelling and drive further action to improve their personal safety in the capital.”

London TravelWatch’s launch webinar will be broadcast live on YouTube on Tuesday 20 July and those who can’t watch live can catch up afterwards. Further details can be found on the London TravelWatch website. This research is ongoing, and a public survey will be open over the summer to ensure all of London’s transport users have a chance to share their views to ensure the transport industry knows what to prioritise when it comes to improving personal safety while travelling. 

Notes to editors

  1. London TravelWatch is the operating name for the London Transport Users Committee. We are the official watchdog representing the interests of transport users in and around London, and independent of the transport operators and government. London TravelWatch is sponsored and funded by the London Assembly, part of the Greater London Authority.
  2. * The research draws on evidence gathered from a representative survey of transport users as well as a focus group held with the Young Women’s Trust. The main survey work was conducted by Illuminas, a leading independent market research agency. 377 transport users in London were surveyed via an online panel of respondents. The data were weighted to be representative of London adults. The survey is ongoing, but this analysis draws data from fieldwork conducted between 2 July 2021 and 12 July 2021. The survey slides will be available on the London TravelWatch website from tomorrow.
  3. For more information, please contact the London TravelWatch press office on 07734 055494.
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