Collaboration to address viable solutions for VAWG database

A project is underway that aims to establish viable solutions for the establishment of a National Incident Database for violence against women and girls (VAWG) on public transport.


Led by Nottingham Trent University’s Prof Andrew Newton in collaboration with the Connected Places Catapult, the 18-month effort will address the lack of standardisation, coordination, and collaboration of gender disaggregated data intelligence across various regions, police forces, and transport authorities in England and Wales.

The Home Office made VAWG a national priority in 2021, but studies including the Suzy Lamplugh-2022 report from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust found that 88 per cent of respondents experienced unwanted attention on public transport, with 14 per cent reporting such incidents. Fear of victimisation has become a significant barrier to reporting.

A 2022 study by the Department for Transport identified 13 recommendations to tackle VAWG on public transport, including the creation of a national intelligence database capturing incident reports from all transport modes and areas.

Currently in its early stages, the project seeks to pilot interventions to address inconsistencies in data collection and analysis, particularly concerning crime data within the transportation sector.

“If you're going to start to develop some interventions and some work around this, you really need a clearer and more consistent picture of what your problems are in order to address and problem solve against them,” said Prof Newton.

While the ultimate goal is not the immediate development of a national database, the project aims to identify and address reporting processes, challenges, and potential avenues for data integration.

Newton plans to collaborate with various stakeholders, including Transport for London (TfL), British Transport Police, local authorities, and community safety teams.


He also aims to engage with transport operators and potential pilot sites across different regions, including London, Manchester, and Bristol.

Project milestones include the assessment of existing reporting processes, identification of pilot sites, and engagement with stakeholders to discuss necessary measures and potential pilot tests.

Newton acknowledged the complexity of integrating data from diverse sources, including different modes of transportation and reporting mechanisms, but emphasized the importance of starting the conversation and demonstrating the feasibility of such initiatives.

“If you are a user on a system -  a bus or a train or another form of public transport  - then who do you report to, where would it go, why would you report, why would you not report,” said Prof Newton.

Ultimately, the project aims to improve confidence in reporting incidents for women, who are affected by safety concerns while using public transportation and whose non-use of public transport because of VAWG negatively impacts the economy as well as individuals.

Merseytravel, for example, documented the negative economic effects of sexual harassment, costing its economy £338m per annum through women and girls feeling unsafe on public transport.

“We need to develop through these pilots a business case for why this needs to be to be rolled out and show that way of working for making this a national rollout,” said Prof Newton.

By addressing these challenges and fostering collaboration among participants, Newton hopes to lay the groundwork for more comprehensive and standardised approaches to data collection and analysis within the transportation sector, potentially informing future modifications to infrastructure and policies to enhance safety and accessibility.

The project is funded by the Innovation Launchpad Network+.