DS Sarah White of the British Transport Police confirmed that staring at women on trains will be recorded as “crimes” and shows “unhealthy” sexual behaviours.
Last month, Transport for London, the government authority that controls the London Underground and other transport networks in the British capital, launched posters as part of a campaign designed to stop “common” forms of sexual harassment, which included taking upskirt photos, touching people, flashing them, among other things.
However, “intrusive” staring at women and girl was also considered to be sexual harassment, with posters featuring big wide eyes declaring that such staring would not be “tolerated” by the British Transport Police.
Detective Superintendent Sarah White, who leads the British Transport Police’s sexual offences team, confirmed that individuals who stare at women are “starting to show behaviours that are unhealthy.”
Despite noting that staring is obviously “human nature,” White in the next breath said that it’s “very different” when someone is “staring” or has a “sexual motivation” when doing so. “We want to know about that staring because that is the behaviour that suggests to me that someone is thinking about a sexual behaviour that supports that staring,” White said.
DS White encouraged women to report any incidents as “crimes” and confirmed that they would be investigated as such. Dominik Bullok, 26, was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison in March after “continously staring” at a woman on a train, and blocking her exit.
The BTP officer said that anyone who stares at women should be concerned, because the BTP has undercover officers on trains. “My advice would be that you never know who you are standing or sitting next to on the railway because it could be a copper,” White said.
A new app, Railway Guardian, is set to launch in the summer, which will allow commuters to “report” staring on trains to the police, and create a “hostile” environment for anybody who does so.
The campaign was slammed by many, including from Lois McLatchie, a communications officer with a legal advocacy organisation, who said the posters would leave police officers with an “impossible mind-reading task.”
“Unfortunately, this is part of a growing trend where police officers are being asked to monitor internal thoughts,” McLatchie said. “Criminalising thought is neither practical nor effective in tackling sexual harassment. Such overreach is detrimental to the fundamental freedoms at the core of a democratic society.”
DS White had appeared on a virtual panel last year run by the “Lambeth Anti-Harassment Campaign,” a group linked to the feminist Women’s Equality Party, where she encouraged “victims” of “unwanted sexual behaviour” to report incidents to the police, despite such incidents “not reaching the threshold for a sexual offence, for a crime.”
Valiant News reported last week that new guidance from the UK’s police chief association has said that transgender officers born as male must be allowed to strip-search women, and could result in a non-crime hate incident if the women complain.
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