Staring can land you in prison as police crackdown on 'unhealthy sexual behaviour'

17 April 2022, 17:53 | Updated: 17 April 2022, 18:01

A senior police officer has urged everyone who witnesses "intense staring" on the London Underground to report it
A senior police officer has urged everyone who witnesses "intense staring" on the London Underground to report it. Picture: Alamy/TfL

By Megan Hinton

A senior police officer has urged everyone who witnesses "intense staring" on the London Underground to report it, amid concerns it could be an early sign of unhealthy sexual behaviour.

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Detective Inspector Sarah White, who leads British Transport Police's sexual offences team, said her officers are receiving daily reports of people committing sexual offences including staring.

Last month Transport for London launched a new campaign, amid at tackling sexual harassment of women and girls which included upskirting, cat calling and staring.

Posters have now been place in tube stations across the capital stating: "Intrusive staring of a sexual nature is sexual harassment and is not tolerated."

Read more: Police search for man in pink bobble hat after sex assault on London bus

On Sunday Detective Superintendent Sarah White, a senior British Transport Police (BTP) officer told The Telegraph: "It's human nature to stare at things. However, it's very different when someone is staring, leering, or there’s a sexual motivation.

"We want to know about that staring because that is the behaviour that suggests to me that someone is thinking about a sexual behaviour that supports that staring.

"We will record them as crimes and we will investigate them - and we have had successful prosecutions in that field."

Just last month a man was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison after a woman reported him for "continuously staring" at her on a train in Berkshire.

Dominik Bullock, 26, of Spurcroft road, Thatcham, was found guilty of causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress after he sat next to the victim on the train and began staring at her "very intently".

The victim asked Bullock to stop staring several times as it was making her feel uncomfortable, but he refused.

BTP Sergeant Charlotte Collins said at the time of his sentencing, that it was "clear from Bullock’s persistent and distressing actions that he is a danger to women and girls".

Read more: Met Police detective found guilty after trying to meet girl, 13, for sex

A Centre for London survey from 2019 found that women were nearly twice as likely as men to mention personal safety as a barrier to walking and using public transport. 

Research also shows that nearly half of those who experience sexual harassment do not tell anyone.

In a statement released at the start of the anti-harassment campaign, TfL said: "Sexual harassment is a form of violence, most often directed against women and girls in public places. 

"The safety of women and girls is an absolute priority for TfL and this new campaign is one element of TfL's work to ensure everyone can travel with confidence.

"The campaign aims to challenge the normalisation and dismissal of this behaviour as "something that happens" to women and girls on public transport and in other public spaces, making it clear that it is never acceptable and that the strongest possible action will always be taken."