By Acting Senior Sergeant Damien Higgins - Southbank Police Station
With the excitement of the holiday period rapidly approaching it’s important to remain aware of our own personal safety and surroundings.
The number of commuters taking public transport is returning to pre-COVID levels, and while most users are well behaved, there has been an increase in antisocial behaviour across the public transport network.
Reported sex offences on public transport have been increasing during the past three years and remain largely underreported. These offences impact on safety and perceptions of safety, with victims being predominantly women and girls.
Victoria Police has introduced a new text-message service for Public Transport Users to report anti-social behaviour. Simply text “STOPIT” to 0499 455 455. The sender will then the receive a link to an online form that enables users to report details of the incident, the location, time, and type of behaviour.
Users can report incidents like, but not limited to, unwanted sexual behaviour, graffiti of property damage and suspicious behaviour, such as drug activity. Reports are triaged by the STOPIT team which ensures reports are referred to the appropriate unit for follow up investigation.
Users can upload a photograph or video of the incident captured. Users may submit the incident at the time of recording or after the incident has happened.
The STOPIT system can be used on all transport systems.
The system is not monitored live. For immediate police assistance, please call 000. Users are advised in the return message should they need immediate police assistance to call 000.
The service is available in 12 languages, these being, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese, Korean, Khmer, Persian, Dari, Thai, Karen, Turkish and Punjabi. Deaf Victoria has also provided feedback that the text-based service is expected to be highly valued by its members, given its accessibility.
Between July 8 and August 29, 242 notifications had been reported, with some fantastic feedback including this from a young teenager … “Seeing this person regularly (since January) and not having the confidence to do anything about it has made me feel really uncomfortable during my commutes on transport.”
We remind everyone using public Transport to save the STOPIT phone number (0499 455 455) into their phone and report any suspicious behaviour. •