Project Empower: Encouraging the reporting of unwanted sexual behaviour on the transport network to police

The West Midlands Safer Travel Partnership are calling on victims of unwanted sexual behaviour on our transport network to report their experiences to the police.

The campaign, Project Empower, will be displayed on buses and at transport hubs across the region. The posters ask people to report behaviours such as inappropriate touching, stalking, harassment and sexual comments. Passengers can report to West Midlands Police by scanning a QR code and opening Live Chat on the force website.

Picture 1 Project Empower: Encouraging the reporting of unwanted sexual behaviour on the transport network to police

Over 1600 Project Empower posters are displayed on the region’s buses as well as in bus stations, schools, universities and football stadiums. The posters aim to raise awareness of unwanted sexual behaviour and encourage people to speak to police. Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) will also include safety advice and links to report incidents on their Swift app for passengers that are purchasing tickets or planning journeys.

Reporting through Live Chat allows passengers to talk quickly and discreetly about what’s happened to them. It also reduces the chance of being overheard or alerting others nearby, which can sometimes be a barrier to reporting sexual offences.

The project is being supported by a Safer Travel Partnership Education Officer (specially trained in trauma response, adverse child experiences, vulnerability and challenging behaviour) who delivers adapted workshops to meet the needs of individual groups of students.

Moreover, training has been developed for transport staff working on buses and in stations to help them spot the signs of sexual offences and safeguard the victim.

The campaign sits within the work West Midlands Police are doing to tackle Violence, Abuse and Intimidation against Women and Girls (VAIWG). 

Inspector Rachel Crump, head of the Safer Travel police team, said: “Many young girls we’ve already spoken to didn’t realise that some of the behaviours they are experiencing regularly are a crime and can be reported to police, which is both saddening but rewarding to know that we are raising awareness and helping them to report what’s happening to them”.

“With more reports, we can build a truer and more accurate picture of what’s happening on our network and apprehend those who are behaving unacceptably on our transport network.”

Anne Shaw, managing director of TfWM, and Department for Transport  Violence Against Women and Girls Transport Champion, said : “No one should feel vulnerable using public transport which is why we work so closely with police through the Safer Travel Partnership to improve safety. Our Empower campaign will make it easier for women and girls to report unwanted attention, intimidation and harassment discreetly”.

“It is through both wider reporting of incidents, as well as educating people about appropriate behaviour that we can prevent these sex offences happening in the first place.”

The West Midlands Safer Travel Partnership and TfWM are supporting Colmore BID to launch their new Colmore Women’s Safety Forum; a dedicated and identifiable means of providing the diversity of businesswomen within our District with a powerful and influential voice within the VAIWG conversations.

To find out more about the Colmore Women’s Safety Forum contact our Forum Co-ordinators Paul Street or Kelsey Dwyer.

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