News, Tube

#wherearetheposters A Project Guardian Update

Would this harrowing story of harassment on a London bus, submitted to this blog last month by Gemma, 16 year old, have been different if she had seen a poster on the bus telling her she could text 61016 to report what happened?

If she had felt confident in speaking to the driver because they knew she would be believed?

We’re asking #wherearetheposters because it is time to get the message out of the promotional pens and onto the transport network!

It's time to get the message out of the promotional pens and onto Buses, Trains and Tubes!

This week, I (Bryony) sat on the Policing and Crime panel at the London Assembly, whose role it is to scrutinise and look at the efficacy of City Hall policy, alongside End Violence Against Women Coalition, London Travel Watch, the former head of BTP and Suzy Lamplugh Trust. I was able to explain to them the joy but also some of the frustrations we have had in watching Project Guardian’s progress over the last few years, since we were invited to sit on the advisory board in 2012. I asked assembly members for support in our continued lobbying for some kind of public, real world, network-based messaging about sexual offences on public transport.

We have really put the work in to represent women and LGBT people who experience harassment, and share their concerns in a whole host of different contexts, from executive roundtables at the Department for Transport, to British Transport Police presentations, academic conferences, BBC London, BBC News and more regional radio shows than you can name. We’ve worked a lot wih Dr. Jackie Gray at Middlesex University, whose team created a rapid impact assessment looking at every study of every intervention on public transport aimed at reducing.  Entitled ‘“What works” in reducing sexual harassment and sexual behaviour on public transport Nationally and Internationally“, the report showed that, amongst a plethora of other useful measures, including better design of carriages and bus stops, poster awareness campaigns do help passenger to feel safer.

The rapid impact assessment was commissioned by BTP, and yet this evidence base seems to have been brushed over by TfL. The social media work has already been very successful, see the recent 32.2% increase in recorded sexual offences on public transport, but the recognition of the campaign is still so low amongst women I speak to about harassment every day.

Earlier this year, the Report it to Stop it video was launched. This excellent, hard-hitting video showed an incident on the tube, and asked viewers when they would report. It made plain the self-doubt and the fear that can contribute to underreporting of harassment and assault, and gave a real world example that didn’t stereotype. It was really effective:

But this video only appears as a digital ad targeted at 18-35 year old women. We believe that everyone, including men and children (we know that school journeys are often the site of sexual harassment for young girls) should receive these messages, and more importantly, we believe they need to appear ON BUSES, TRAINS AND TUBES!

Just as TfL is happy to share messages that assaults on staff on trains will be taken seriously, it does this on the trains where it can happen, not on Youtube! Messages about pickpocketing are considered important enough to appear on buses, trains, trams, so why not sexual assault?

I put these questions to TfL Communications department team earlier this year, over three years since my involvement on the advisory board of Project Guardian. Clearly this is a very carefully constructed campaign, and I was reassured that it is long term and that methods could change, but was also told that there were currently no plans to take the message beyond the social media world, largely due to two key concerns:

  • That the message is “too complex” for those who may only glance at it on the bus or train
  • That a message that mentions sexual offences may put women off using the network

The issue of fear of crime reducing travel is an understandable issue for TfL, of course, and this fear comes from a respondent at a focus group who, when shown a poster from an American city, said it would put her off travelling. We know this because we helped the market research company to write the questions! The video is awesome and has had some brilliant feedback, so let’s get it out there on the network now, instead of just hoping that women will not have Ad-block installed and may see a video online and make the effort to save 61016 in their phone.

All of these hours of research and work has been unpaid, because I want my city to be safer. It’s time to ask #wherearetheposters. Take a selfie on public transport, wherever you are, and use the hashtag #wherearetheposters if you believe women and LGBT deserve safety while travelling.

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Told me I was not a “proper sort”

Guy pulled up in a car and shouted out at me. Told me I was not a “proper sort” when I asked him to leave me alone

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Embarrassing because it was in front of so many people.

New submission from Meghan

Man thought it was okay to lean out of his car window and make ‘kissing’ noises at me whilst I was on my own. I ignored and continued walking, could still hear him doing it from behind though. Embarrassing because it was in front of so many people.

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I was utterly shocked and I didn’t stop shaking till I got home.

I was walking on the pathway at about 10pm when I heard someone running behind me. At first I thought it was a thief aiming at my bag so I held on to it, but instead it was a guy who ran toward me, slapped my behind and kept running crossing the street. I was utterly shocked and I didn’t stop shaking till I got home.

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Stalking/Following, Verbal

He casually informed me he was stalking me

New submission from Collette

An older guy in my workplace has been staring at me alot! Firstly asking about my bf, then last week he casually informed me he was stalking me, when I told he it was creepy, he said I know and laughed in my face. Completely stunned, I told him firmly I did not like it and I was not joking! Absolutely digusted by his behaviour.

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They all began to follow me

Was walking from my house to my house on the seafront to my girlfriend’s place in Seven Dials at around 11pm.
A group of 4 young men, sitting by the closed down soda stream (?) shop, made kissing noises at me.
I ignored them and as I turned off western road they all got up and began to follow me.
It may have been a coincidence that they started walking behind me then, and only followed for a short while, but I was pretty intimidated.

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Threat of violence, Verbal

He kept following me and asked “are you down for sex?”

New submission from Florentina Berboog

I was walking home after a night out when a man with an 3erocap approached me asking for directions, I informed him that I did not know. He then proceeded to tell me that “this street is very nice place its dark and no body come there I can take you”. I replied “no thanks” to which he said “Do you want to miss work tomorrow and I will pay you £100 which is more than you earn in a day to go out with me” I then started walking away immediately. He kept following me and asked “are you down for sex?” to which I replied “get away from me or else I will get a restraining order” and then he aggressively grabbed his crotch and said “restrain this bitch”. He then tried to kick me while shouting “wilich adebsiz” so I ran home.

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“Hey, excuse me? Do you go to the gym a lot? Because you’ve got a loooooovely figure”

New submission from Student

While walking to a training session in a baggy tshirt and sports’ leggings: “Hey, excuse me? Do you go to the gym a lot? Because you’ve got a loooooovely figure” while eyeing me up and down. What made it worse was his initial politeness made me feel bad for being uncomfortable, and in addition he had (presumably his) two young children with him.

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