Women and girls’ forced to change their travel habits in order to feel safe on public transport in Scotland, new study finds

Women and girls are being forced to adapt their own behaviour and change their travel habits in order to feel safe on public transport, according to research commissioned by Transport Scotland.

Now a report has made 10 recommendations to help them feel safer, including:

  • Introducing systems to regularly monitor, upgrade and repair lighting and communications systems for all transport services
  • Developing credible and accessible information and guidance on reporting incidents that do occur
  • Exploring the feasibility of increasing the presence and visibility of staff across the transport network
  • A comprehensive review of staff training on both their own safety and how to support and protect passengers

Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “Everyone has the right to feel safe and supported on Scotland’s public transport system, including women and girls which is why this work has been one of my key priorities over the last year.

“During our research, women and girls told us they shoulder significant responsibility for adapting their own behaviour to try to ‘be’ and ‘feel’ safe on public transport. They are often in a constant state of vigilance, particularly at night time, and as a result end up changing their plans – only travelling at certain points of the day or not using public transport altogether.

“This is simply not acceptable in 21st century Scotland.

“We will now work with transport operators and stakeholders to carefully consider these recommendations and how we can implement them quickly and effectively, to ensure our transport network is safer and more secure for all who use it.”

British Transport Police Superintendent Arlene Wilson said: Women’s safety on the rail network is a key priority for BTP. The findings from this research will support our aim of ensuring every woman and girl can travel on the rail network without fear of harassment or intimidation. We will use these findings to work with our partners to ensure that sexual harassment will not be tolerated on the network and we will always take reports of this behaviour seriously.

“Our officers continue to patrol the rail network to catch offenders and reassure passengers. We also urge the public to report anything to us by texting 61016 or via the Railway Guardian app. In an emergency always dial 999.”

Kate Wallace, CEO of Victim Support Scotland said: “Victim Support Scotland welcomes this focus on increasing women and girls’ safety on public transport. While incidents are still too high, we welcome steps being taken to improve reporting and for complaints to be taken seriously. 

“VSS is here to help anyone affected by crime and encourage people affected to get support through our website and webchat at victimsupport.scot and our National Support Centre on 0800 160 1985.”


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