Campaign to catch Wigan train perverts
Supporters of a new campaign are urging rail passengers to report any unwanted sexual advances made on Wigan's trains.
British Transport Police (BTP) is urging anyone molested on rail services in the north west to report offenders’ behaviour to officers.
Two men from Wigan have been jailed or given a suspended sentence in recent years for abusing women while travelling on the local network.
Now the BTP is stepping up its Report It Stop It initiative to ensure there’s no hiding place for train perverts.
An increase in the reporting of rail sexual offences has been recorded in recent times and the latest awareness drive is being backed by a specially-commissioned video.
Last July alcoholic Timothy Butler was given a suspended jail term after he stuck his hand up a woman’s skirt while she was travelling home by train to Southport.
The 40-year-old from Wigan left his victim anxious about using trains while on her own in future.
And in 2014 an Ince man, Terry Winstanley, then 28, was jailed for 35 weeks for molesting a woman at Manchester’s Victoria station.
The city’s crown court heard that he approached his victim as she climbed some stairs there, indecently touched her while making lewd comments.
Police say that unwanted sexual behaviour can be anything from leering and sexual comments to groping and carrying out indecent acts.
A targeted week of action, which begins today, will see uniformed officers step up patrols and advise commuters on how to report unwanted sexual behaviour.
Travellers who have concerns are also being asked to text 61016, as it is monitored by the BTP’s control room.
Plain clothes officers will also be looking out for any potential offenders on the network.
Further engagement days are being planned in the coming weeks, with officers handing out leaflets and giving advice to commuters and tourists.
Det Chief Supt Paul Furnell said: “Tackling all forms of unwanted sexual behaviour on the railway is a priority for us.
“Each report we receive provides us with valuable information which we can use to build a picture of an offender.
“The sooner we receive a report, the better chance we have of catching the offender.
“We want people to know that even if they think something is too small to be taken seriously by police, that is not the case.
“Often it allows us to notice a pattern of offending behaviour and we will take action.”
One victim has waived her right to anonymity to recount her ordeal last August.
Sixteen-year-old Harriotte Lane was travelling alone on a train for the first time and was pulling into a station and waving to her mum when she was molested.
A stranger walked past her and grabbed her bottom, leaving her shaken and distraught.
Harriotte said: “I wasn’t aware of him, I didn’t notice him until he was four metres in front of me. He walked to the right of me and towards me.
“As we came shoulder to shoulder he grabbed my bum.
“I didn’t realise at the time that it was against the law. I didn’t realise it was sexual assault.”