Tube sexual assault victim calls for CCTV on trains

Crowded Tube train Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Transport for London said CCTV on crowded trains was “unlikely” to reduce the number of sexual assaults

A woman who was sexually assaulted on the London Underground is calling for CCTV cameras to be installed on all Tube trains.

The 23-year-old was grabbed around the waist by a man on a Central Line train on 19 March.

Almost one in four sex assaults on the Tube network happen on the Central Line. Unlike most other lines its trains do not have CCTV cameras.

Transport for London (TfL) accepted the lack of CCTV was “an issue”.

Sarah – not her real name – was in a busy carriage on her way to work in Oxford Circus when she felt what she thought was a bag brushing against her.

“I then got grabbed on the waist. The guy behind me was evidently brushing an erection against me,” she said.

“I was absolutely petrified. I couldn’t move, I was frozen.”

‘Happens regularly’

The man was forced to stop touching her when more people boarded the train at the next station.

Sarah, who works in public relations and lives in Romford, got off the train at Liverpool Street to find a police officer.

When she spoke to a member of British Transport Police (BTP), he told her it was unlikely the man would be caught.

“He said to me ‘This kind of thing happens regularly. It’s because there’s no CCTV on the train that they think they can chance it’,” Sarah said.

“Why is there no CCTV on the trains, when they’re obviously aware this is a regular occurrence?”

Sarah has written to London Mayor Sadiq Khan about her concerns, but has not heard back.

A TfL spokeswoman said: “CCTV on the trains can be valuable but what we know from our reports is that for sexual assaults, the majority of cases happen at the busiest times and on the busiest services.

“When it’s busy, it’s very difficult to identify the people as well as the nature of the actions, so what is more valuable is the CCTV in the Tube stations themselves.”

TfL plans to fit Central Line trains with cameras by 2023.

It said Piccadilly Line trains should get cameras “in the 2020s” but there are no current plans to put them on Bakerloo Line trains.

The other eight lines on the network, which all operate newer, more high-tech trains, have CCTV.

London Assembly member Sian Berry said introducing CCTV on trains should be “a high priority”.

“If [sex offenders] are targeting lines that don’t have CCTV, that is very worrying,” she said.

A BTP spokesperson said inquiries continued to find Sarah’s attacker, who she described as 6ft 2in tall, with dark, short hair and acne-scarred cheeks.

He was wearing a grey suit at the time of the assault, which happened between Stratford and Mile End stations.

The number of reported sex offences has risen in recent years after BTP launched a campaign encouraging victims to come forward.

Sarah said she was still “shocked and upset” about the assault, and has become nervous about using public transport.

“I can’t believe someone felt they had the right to do that to me,” she added.



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