We’re excited to announce that we have been working with TfL and British Transport Police on Project Guardian, a groundbreaking campaign to address and change how unwanted sexual behaviour that happens on their networks is dealt with. This includes tubes, overground trains and buses. Today they went public in the Guardian and so after months of confidentiality we can finally talk about it!
Along with other women’s organisations, we have acted as a ‘critical friend’ to the working group, sitting on the advisory board alongside the End Violence Against Women Coalition and Everyday Sexism, helping to steer the project in the right direction. We’re honoured to be working so closely on such a game-changing piece of work.
While not all harassment is a crime under law, Project Guardian will encourage the reporting of every incident that contributes to the culture of fear faced by women and LGBTQ people, to get a real sense of the scale of the problem, so they can formulate policy based on lived experience. Research has been commissioned that involves real people, to get a better sense of what the barriers are. Again, this is hugely significant coming from an institution not exactly always applauded for believing victims. Project Guardian also sees the police acknowledging that this campaign will undoubtedly see the crime stats rocket as confidence in reporting increases, but the consequences of the latter make the inevitable ‘crime goes up’ headlines worth it.
Specific training on unwanted sexual behaviour has now been delivered to every single officer serving on the transport system (over 2000) and is being rolled out not only to TfL staff but to the employees of contracted bus services, encouraging them to play an active role in helping combat unwanted sexual behaviour on their buses.
We were unsure initially about engaging with the project due to our desire to remain independent both as activists and as a source of support that doesn’t tell people who experience harassment what they ‘should’ do. However, having met with the people working on the project, we have been repeatedly pleasantly surprised with how far-reaching and well-researched the rationale behind Project Guardian is. Ultimately we saw this as an opportunity to engage with law enforcement and transport authorities in a productive way, taking our years of learning and the voices on this site, and using them to influence and improve the city we live in.
The Project is ongoing and we will be updating you with regular bulletins about our work in helping to shape this.