08 February 2022

London TravelWatch has today shared some practical tips for good bystander behaviour after its research showed that many people just wouldn’t know how to help if they saw someone being abused or harassed when travelling around London. The research shows the importance of bystander action when it comes to sexual harassment and the tips are released to coincide with Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week. The watchdog is also calling on TfL and the transport industry to give out comprehensive advice to people on how they can help when they witness sexual harassment on public transport.

Millions of Londoners rely on public transport to get around the city every day and it’s likely that we’ll all see a crime or incident unfold before our eyes at some time or other. But despite most people being willing to help, 63% of people told us they would feel more confident in responding to a crime or incident if they had more information about how to do so.

London TravelWatch has produced a video guide* with some suggested actions you might be able to take if you see a crime or incident on a train, bus or Tube.  The guide draws on advice already available from the transport industry and options include getting help by calling 101 on a bus or tram or texting 61016 on a train or Tube; asking the victim if they are ok or filming an incident from a distance if you think it’s safe.

Emma Gibson, CEO of London TravelWatch commented: We’ve all been in a situation at some stage of our lives where we we’ve been out and about and seen something happen which we know is unacceptable but we just don’t know what to do to help, and feel absolutely powerless – like we’re glued to the spot. Today we’re sharing some top tips which can help people become much more active bystanders by reporting or recording an incident or even just talking to the victim. But we want TfL, the police and transport companies to go further. We want clear guidance so people know how to safely challenge unacceptable behaviour when they are on public transport, know how to report it and provide practical support to other passengers.’


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. Read our research on personal security: https://www.londontravelwatch.org.uk/personal-security/
  3. The full list of active bystander behaviours produced by the rail industry, the police and women’s groups can be found here: https://madeby.tfl.gov.uk/2021/10/27/tackling-sexual-harassment/
  4. For more information, please contact the London TravelWatch press office on 07734 055494.
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