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Unwanted sexual behaviour on a train? A tram? Text STOPIT to 0499 455 455

A new Victoria Police service, called STOPIT, allows people subjected to unwanted sexual behaviour or people who witness it on public transport to discreetly text police on 0499 455 455 using their mobile.

A new Victoria Police service, called STOPIT, allows people subjected to unwanted sexual behaviour or people who witness it on public transport to discreetly text police on 0499 455 455 using their mobile.

They’ll then receive a link to provide information to a dedicated team of transit police about what’s happened.

Launched today by Transit & Public Safety Command Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter, it’s the first time a police force in Australia has deployed such technology.

“This is a significant initiative for Victoria Police and I am incredibly proud of everyone who has dedicated years to this Australian-first service,” Asst. Commissioner McWhirter said.

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

Victoria Police has been developing STOPIT since 2019 to help combat sexual offending on public transport and give commuters greater confidence when they travel.

People using the service will be able to notify police about six types of behaviours comprising unwanted sexual behaviour, suspicious behaviour, threatening and offensive behaviour, obscene and racist language, drug and alcohol-related incidents and graffiti and property damage.

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

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

Information from notifications will be used to help police identify and hold perpetrators to account.

“STOPIT will give police a better understanding of exactly what’s occurring and most importantly boost our ability to identify perpetrators and hold them to account,” Asst. Commissioner McWhirter said.

It will also be used to help Victoria Police determine where to deploy members and tackle recidivist offending.

Anyone requiring an immediate police response in an emergency is still advised to phone Triple Zero (000).

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

Research completed for Victoria Police has shown people who are subjected to unwanted sexual behaviour or witness it often don’t report it at the time out of safety concerns or because they don’t know how to make a complaint.

There can also be confusion about whether unwelcome behaviour is a criminal offence, but Victoria Police stresses it wants to hear about any behaviour which makes a person feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened.

Victoria Police has worked with the Department of Transport, public transport operators, the Public Transport Users Association and women’s advocacy groups in the development of STOPIT.

To initiate the service, commuters can text ‘STOPIT’ to 0499 455 455.

Victoria Police encourages people to save the number to their mobile phone.

STOPIT is now available on trains and will be extended to trams and buses in late August.

The service is available in 13 languages.

For further information go to https://www.police.vic.gov.au/stopit.

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