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Transport Champions for Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls

Key Findings

To date, the work of the Transport Champions has been two-fold. The first phase of the work has involved holding eight roundtable discussions with a wide range of experts in the field of transport and safety to gather extensive data, evidence and insight into the issues and impacts surrounding women and girl’s safety.

The second phase has involved developing and shaping the recommendations to improve safety on our transport networks. This has taken account of developments arising from the tackling VAWGs Strategy, the extensive consultation with assembled experts and the evidence from the vast sources of data being shared with the Transport Champions. The aim has been to create a strategic approach in tackling safety issues on our transport networks, which will help collaboration to take place across government departments, devolved administrations, police forces including the British Transport Police (BTP), transport authorities as well as taxi and private hire vehicle licensing authorities.

The key findings were as follows:
Key Findings 1:

A substantial amount of evidence showed that both women and girls do not take up opportunities such as employment and training due to their transport options being limited, with their safety and sometimes racially motivated incidents, acting as a barrier. As women and girls are more reliant on public transport and active travel modes for their mobility needs, their fears can reduce their life opportunities and ambitions. As a result, up to 3.7%1 of GDP can be lost through women’s fears in accessing employment, alongside the wider impact VAWGs may have on deterring tourism and leisure journeys.

To echo these findings, Merseytravel documented the negative economic effects of sexual harassment, costing its economy £338M per annum through women and girls feeling unsafe.

Key Findings 2:

There was a common view that no woman or girl should need to live in fear of going out, think about changing their normal route or changing what they are wearing to be safe. It was also strongly felt by all the roundtables that women should not have to change what they do, simply because of unacceptable behaviour by men. The overarching consensus was that it was the perpetrator which needed to change, with unacceptable behaviours being called out by friends, colleagues, family members and society as a whole, with systems in place to support this.

  • Beilinsohn, H (2021) ‘Safe Woman Economic Impact Assessment & Final Report’, iSensing Limited.
Key Findings 3:

People believed that the safety of the ‘whole, end to end journey’ should always be considered, covering all modes including public transport, active travel, micromobility, taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs), the car passenger and the car driver, together with good placemaking and public realm design including good lighting, maintenance of the environment, information provision, help points, surveillance and car parking provision.

Key Findings 4:

There was a general view of gender blindless and bias taking place, when designing our transport networks, with limited thought given into how women use or perceive the transport system, including the types and numbers of journeys made, modes used and complexity of trips undertaken. Despite women on average making far more trips on public transport and active travel modes then men and being less likely to own a car, they are less likely to have designed the transport infrastructure and the public spaces around our transport nodes. Therefore, there has been minimal attention paid to the needs of women or the importance of addressing violence on our transport systems.

This may partly be explained through only 20% of women working within the transport industry, and those who do, are working in more traditional roles and hence are less likely to be involved in the planning and design process of our transport systems.

Key finding 5:

There are limited resources or knowledge on how to address gender and other social differences in transport policy making, planning and design.

While guidance on how to implement Equality Impact Assessments is available, a true appreciation of the unique experiences of the different protected characteristic groups and bringing out the many different types of hidden gender inequalities, is often overlooked within the transport industry.

Key finding 6:

Very few incidents of VAWGs are ever reported, limiting our levels of data intelligence into preventing these crimes in the first place. In fact, a common belief was held by the victims that they would not be taken seriously, nothing would be done about it, it wasn’t worth the stress or they were unaware of where to report it – meaning that valuable data is then lost.

Key finding 7:

There was little evidence of standardisation, co-ordination or collaboration of gender disaggregated data intelligence across the different regions, modes and transport authorities. This was reflected in the crime data itself, in reporting mechanisms, in the systems and monitoring techniques applied and in training materials and campaigns – with no centralised approach for sharing this information.

Key finding 8:

There was a view that VAWGs was happening across all areas of society and that tackling this was needed across all industries and settings, not just transport. There was common agreement that all government departments will be needed to help change social norms, attitudes and behaviours which is often felt as the root cause of VAWGs, with longer term solutions needed through active agents of change, such as bystander interventions.

Key finding 9:

The importance of creating more hostile environments for the perpetrator, across all our transport networks through more high visibility police patrols and targeted activity at hotspot locations alongside other enforcement methods as part of a blended model and the work of the BTP for example, signage, CCTV, intel, covert policing etc. In addition, there was a need to send clear messages through education, social media, marketing and communications to offenders of what is unacceptable behaviour, harmful and what won’t be tolerated on our services; ensuring that action will always be taken, and the victim would never be blamed.