EXCL Shadow minister suggests women-only train carriages to cut down on sex assaults

Posted On: 
22nd August 2017

A Labour frontbencher has said women-only train carriages may be needed to tackle a rise in sex attacks.

Chris Williamson has floated the idea of women-only train carriages.
Chris Williamson

Chris Williamson said the move could help to create a "safe space" for female commuters.

His comments echo those of Jeremy Corbyn, who came in for criticism when he floated the idea when he was first running to be Labour leader two years ago.

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Figures uncovered by the BBC last month showed that 1,448 sexual offences on UK trains were reported in 2016-17 - up from 650 in 2012-2013.

Mr Williamson, who is the shadow fire minister, last night re-tweeted an article on the left-wing Skwawkbox website which suggested Mr Corbyn had been right to suggest female-only train carriages to help deal with the problem.

Speaking to PoliticsHome, the Derby North MP said: "It would be worth consulting about it. It was pooh-poohed (when Jeremy Corbyn suggested it), but these statistics seem to indicate there is some merit in examining that.

"Complemented with having more guards on trains, it would be a way of combating these attacks, which have seen a very worrying increase in the past few years.

"I'm not saying it has to happen, but it may create a safe space. It would be a matter of personal choice whether someone wanted to make use of it."

In 2015, Mr Corbyn said: "My intention would be to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform to the bus stop to the mode of transport itself.

"However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome - and also if piloting this at times and [on] modes of transport where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest."

But he was criticised by his leadership rivals Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, while then women's minister Nicky Morgan said it smacked of "segregation".

A report in 2014 by Middlesex University for the Department of Transport said bringing women-only carriages would be a "retrograde step" that "could be thought of as insulting, patronising and shaming to both men and women".