London is one of the most diverse cities in the world. The diversity of our city is something that we are incredibly proud of and which unites us. 👏
However, for some, others view them differently and this can result in them becoming the target of a hate crime.
Hate crime on public transport
What is hate crime and staff abuse?
A hate crime is a criminal offence, motivated by hate and hostility towards a person because of actual or perceived:
- Race or ethnicity
- Religion or belief
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
This can include physical violence, verbal abuse and criminal damage. Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but it’s important to report them to the police to help build a picture and inform how policing is managed going forward.
Similarly, abuse of TfL staff takes many forms including physical assault, spitting, verbal abuse and threatening behaviour. Abusing TfL staff could result in a criminal record.
What you can do if you witness a hate crime
It can be difficult to know what to do if you witness hate crime or abusive behaviour on public transport. There are some simple steps you can take to help. Ultimately, we need to foster and normalise a kinder and more considerate society to help tackle antisocial behaviour. We can do this by having more empathy and understanding when interacting with our fellow passengers and TfL staff. Remember only intervene if safe to do so. In an emergency call 999.
❓Distract with a question
Ask the person being targeted a question, while ignoring the perpetrator. Asking ‘what’s the time?’, ‘what’s the next stop?’, or ‘where does this terminate?’ can help to distract and defuse the incident.
📝 Make a note of the details
Safely documenting and reporting an incident can help to build a profile of the perpetrator. Make a note of what the perpetrator looks like, what Tube or bus route you’re on, and what time it is. You can use these details when reporting to the police.
🗣️ Check that the person targeted is okay
After an incident of hate crime or abusive behaviour, your support can help the person targeted. It can help them feel less isolated and more confident reporting it. Asking if they are okay, if there is anything you can do to help, or reassuring them that what happened isn’t okay are all ways you can offer your support.
How to report
You don’t have to be the victim of hate crime to report it. You can stand by your fellow Londoners by reporting what you’ve seen happening to someone else or report it on their behalf. 👍
🚇 If you experience or witness a hate crime on the tube or rail, you can report it by speaking to a member of our staff. Alternatively, you can contact the British Transport Police by texting 61016 or using the Railway Guardian app.
🚍 If you experience or witness a hate crime on London streets or buses, you can report it by speaking to a member of staff if available. Alternatively, you can contact the Met Police or call 101.
All reports of hate crime are taken seriously and are acted upon.
On our website you can find out more details on what happens after a report.
Support for customers who are victims
- The Community Alliance To Combat Hate (CATCH) provides support to Londoners who have experienced hate crime. CATCH offer confidential specialist advice, support and advocacy to victims.
- Met Police officers, British Transport Police officers and our staff have training to deal with crime on the network sensitively and professionally. By reporting it, you may be able to prevent it from happening again to you or to someone else.
What we’re doing to make the network safer
We’re continuing to work with policing partners, British Transport Police and the Met Police, to make travelling on the network as safe as possible. 🤝
Continued investment provides an extensive network of over 70,000 CCTV cameras and body worn video cameras for TfL staff. All TfL staff are trained on how to deal with incidents and they can report to the police on your behalf. Also, we fund over 2,500 police and community support officers on the network to help keep customers safe, tackle incidents and investigate reports.
An example of how TfL have prosecuted offenders:
One of our bus drivers was racially abused by a male. The male was intoxicated and continued to make racial comments to the driver during the journey. The driver used his ‘code red’ button to alert TfL staff who then called the police.
The police arrived at the bus stop where the driver had stopped the service. The male was still onboard and was arrested at the scene. A few months later, at East London Magistrates court, the male was found guilty of racially aggravated public order and was imprisoned for four months.
About our campaign
The ‘Hands Up’ campaign makes it clear we will not accept any form of hate or abuse on our network. The next phase of the campaign informs customers of the ways they can safely intervene if they witness an incident on public transport. It was developed following several months of engagement with community groups, policing partners, industry experts and customers. Our current hate crime campaign is based on the definition of hate used by police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Sexual harassment is not generally considered to be a hate crime unless it is motivated by hostility based on one of the aforementioned categories. However, we have worked with the BTP, Rail Delivery Group (RDG), academics and sexual violence practitioners on a new communications campaign for our public transport networks to support women’s safety.
Experiences from our staff
Everyone has the right to use public transport without fear of abuse because of their disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other characteristic. Reporting an incident can help inform how the area is policed in future. TfL Staff have the right to work without fear of being assaulted, abused of threatened. That’s why we take a zero tolerance approach to all forms of abuse on the network.
One of our Tube customer service assistants experienced several hate crimes over the last year during the coronavirus pandemic. They were left feeling emotionally drained and worthless, suffering racial abuse, verbal attacks, and physical assault all for carrying out their job.
The staff member previously felt proud to wear the uniform of a globally renowned transport network. However, heightened stress levels from the pandemic made her feel that her uniform had turned her into a target for aggressive customers.
Support from the BTP and MPS officers has restored her faith and ensured she no longer feels alone. Urging other members of staff who have experienced similar incidents to report it.
‘Emotionally, it made me feel so rotten, when I was just trying to do my job. When I’m in uniform, it does not mean I should have to bow down to this type of behaviour. It doesn’t mean I’m lesser than anyone else.’
‘You just have to be asked a question and if it’s the wrong answer, you suffer from that. At the end of the day, TfL is a family. To keep stations open, we need to treat staff with respect. Help us to help you.’
Show your support
Use our GIF stickers on your stories and posts
Find our stickers by searching ‘together against hate’ on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and other popular social media platforms.
If you witness or experience an incident of hate crime or abusive behaviour, always report it to the British Transport Police or by using the Railway Guardian App on all TfL services. If you are on a bus, call the Met police on 101 or by going online. In an emergency, always dial 999. Let’s stand together against hate.