Police launch new service to report commuter behavior

Victoria Police have launched a new service for commuters to report unwanted sexual behavior on public transport.

The service, called STOPIT, allows people who are victims of such behavior or who witness it to discreetly send an SMS to the police using their mobile phone.

They are then given a link to provide information to a dedicated transport police team about what happened.

People using the service will be able to report six types of behavior to the police, namely unwanted sexual behavior, suspicious behavior, threatening and offensive behavior, obscene and racist language, drug and alcohol related incidents , graffiti and property damage.

They are directed to a digital form and asked to submit details of the incident, including time, date, location and public transport number.

A photo may also be submitted if it is safe to capture one.

Research for Victoria Police has shown that people who experience or witness unwanted sexual behavior often do not report it at the time for safety reasons or because they do not know not how to file a complaint.

There can also be confusion about whether unwelcome behavior is a criminal offence.

Transit & Public Safety Command Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter said the service was a demonstration of the police’s commitment to ensuring unwanted sexual behavior on public transport is stamped out.

“STOPIT will give police a better understanding of exactly what is going on and, importantly, strengthen our ability to identify perpetrators and hold them to account,” he said.

“This is a significant initiative for Victoria Police and I am incredibly proud of all who have dedicated years to this premier Australian service.”

Victoria Police have been developing STOPIT since 2019 to help tackle sexual offenses on public transport and give commuters greater confidence when travelling.

A similar service has operated in the UK for several years and is credited with enabling victims and bystanders to come forward.

To start the service, commuters can text “STOPIT” to 0499 455 455.

Victoria Police are encouraging people to save the number on their mobile phones.

STOPIT is not live monitored and should not be used if an urgent response is required.

Anyone requiring immediate police action in an emergency is always asked to call Triple Zero (000).

STOPIT is now available on trains and will be extended to trams and buses at the end of August.

The service is available in 13 languages.

For more information go to police.vic.gov.au/stopit

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