According to Planet Radio,there’s been a 30% increase in cases on-board Cumbria’s trains since 2014.
All this week on CFM, we’re investing the rising number of sexual assaults taking place on our railways.
We can exclusively reveal that over the past four years (January 2014) figures of sexual attacks on the county’s trains have risen by a third.
Here in Cumbria, the figures include sexual assault, exposure and even two attacks on children under the age of 13.
The majority of the incidents recorded were sexual assaults on females aged 13 and above.Nationally, figures have more than doubled in the last five years. British Transport Police recorded 2,472 sexual offences last year, which is 16% on the previous year.
20-year-old Ellie Ward is just one of thousands that was sexually assaulted last year on the railways.
She was travelling home alone after going for a drink with friends when she was sexually assaulted on a train last September (2017).
“I was just so frightened. I felt shook up, I was shaking. I got in the car with my boyfriend after and I just felt mortified.”
“You’re on a train. You might have no signal. There’s no one else in the carriage around you, so it’s not like you can shout out for help, you’re completely trapped.
“It left me feeling so on edge. Every time I go out I’m always very aware of who’s around me and what’s going on. I would never get on a train on my own again that’s for sure.”
“You’re vulnerable, it could happen to anyone at anytime on the train. I never thought it would ever happen to me and it did, it just goes to show that it does happen.”
“It’s just so important that people speak out if it happens to them. There’s so many cases happening it’s so vital to come forward. Nothing will ever change if no one speaks out.”
“Its important to speak out too because it’s easy to start thinking it’s your fault. It 100% isn’t you’re fault.”
“What needs to happen now is, more people speaking out, more awareness that it’s happening, people not turning a blind eye and Transport Police making sure they work with train guards to make sure we stop this.
British Transport Police
Since the sharp increase in attacks, the British transport police have put a number of measures in place to try prevent more cases from happening.
Here in Cumbria, they’ve already increased police presence on platforms, along with attempts to encourage rail companies to install better lighting and CCTV cameras on board.
The British transport police have even created a text service which allows travellers to discreetly alert forces of an incident taking place on board the train.
British Transport Police chief inspector David Rams said
“It’s something we are seeing more and more in the last couple of years.The amount of increasing figures however, is positive. It means that more people are coming forward and feeling confident enough police will take their report seriously.”
“We’ve already put so many measures in place to try and tackle this issue but ultimately we can’t solve the problem unless people come forward and let us know that it’s happening.”
“It is such an intimidating act. People will purposefully go out and sit next to women knowing that they’re trapped in a confined space, with out room to cry for help.
“I urge anyone who’s been a victim of a sexual assault on board a train to come forward and speak to us. We take every case seriously. We want to be there to support each victim and stop this from happening to anyone else.”
Sexual abuse charity Victim Support has joined CFM’s investigation, in the hopes it will encourage more people to come forward.
Currently the nation-wide charity deal with thousands of cases of sexual abuse each year, yet there’s estimated to be thousands more victims that never come forward and never receive any help at all.
Susanna Atherton runs Victim Support services in Cumbria, she said:
“The aftermath can be so confusing for victims. You go through so many different emotions, fear, anger, guilt, lots of victims often feel like they’re to blame for the assault.
“We get lots of people coming to us to say they can’t get back on a train. That’s when it starts affecting their day to day life. Maybe they can’t get to work, or travel to see family. For some people it’s even more severe.
“There’s lots of victims out there that feel like they can’t even leave their house. You can speak to us at any stage but that’s when I’d say if it’s affecting you’re everyday life then you definitely need to get in touch.
“Please come and speak to a service like Victim Support. We’ll talk to you about how you’re feeling. We’ll listen to you, we’ll be there to give you support and provide you with options for going forward.
“It’s just so essential that you don’t keep it in. Even if it’s just talking to family or friends and letting someone know that something is bothering you.”