Sexual assaults on public transport in Victoria has hit a 10-year high. Photo: Paul Rovere
Sexual assaults on public transport hit a 10-year high last year, with an “alarming” 60 per cent more assaults reported than a decade ago.
The Victoria Police statistics showed sexual assaults on trams, trains, buses and taxis jumped from 167 in 2003-04 to 268 in 2012-13.
Last year’s figures also revealed almost one in 11 sexual assaults that were recorded in public places happened on public transport.
“It’s quite alarming there’s been such an increase,” Public Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen said.
“It may reflect that more incidents are being reported rather than an increase in the activity itself, but it’s still quite alarming to hear that. Everybody deserves to have a safe and enjoyable trip on public transport.”
It comes as police appealed for help after two schoolgirls were allegedly indecently assaulted on a packed mid-afternoon tram in Melbourne last month.
The two year 11 girls, travelling on a tram at St Kilda at 3.30pm on June 20, snapped photos on their mobile phones of the man they told police assaulted them.
Mr Bowen called for more staff and more security on the public transport network.
“If you look back over the decades, we used to have a tram conductor on every tram and that’s no longer the case. We used to have station staff at every station and that’s no longer the case,” he said.
“We have PSOs [Protective Service Officers] at stations after 6pm, but there are still a lot of stations that have no staff during the day.”
The statistics showed sexual assaults on public transport accounted for about 4 per cent of all sexual assaults, while more than half took place at private residences.
“Mostly people know the person that assaults them and it occurs where they feel safe,” Victorian Centre Against Sexual Assault spokeswoman Carolyn Worth said.
“Having said that, public transport is also a place you should feel safe.”
She said the statistics mean more victims are reporting incidents that can have debilitating effects.
“It’s more likely that women don’t feel as embarrassed and ashamed and come forward and say this happened and this is not ok,” she said.
“It would leave you very uncomfortable and frightened about what could happen next time.”
The assault statistics are recorded during a time when use of public transport increased by about 140 million journeys.
The increased numbers could be attributed to an rise in reporting of offences by the community, Transit police Acting Superintendent Trevor Cornwill said.
“Transit police and local members continue to patrol the public transport network while Protective Services Officers work across the metropolitan train network from 6pm to the last train every day of the week,” he said.
Police Minister Kim Wells said the government aimed to recruit, train and deploy 940 protective services officers by this November to keep commuters safe.
“This forms part of the single largest law and order recruitment exercise in Victoria’s history,” he said. “People who use trains have told us that they welcome the presence of PSOs at train stations. They make people feel safe when travelling at night.”
There are currently 801 PSOs deployed throughout the train network.
A Yarra Trams spokeswoman said criminal activity on trams is “minimal” and transit police ride on trams and trains on a daily basis with staff available to attend incidents.
A Metro Trains spokesman said passengers could alert the train driver by pressing the red emergency button in any carriage and security cameras are on all trains and stations. With Adam Carey and Rania Spooner*Has this happened to you? *Did you report it? *Did you take a photo of the person? Email [email protected]南京夜网.au
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