Commuters report unacceptable behaviour by text

19 STOPIT ad
Carol Saffer

Victoria Police have launched STOPIT, a texting service to help protect public transport passengers.

Commuters can save the number 0499 455 455 onto their mobile phone and text STOPIT if they experience other people’s actions that make them feel uncomfortable or threatened.

It is available on trains and is due for rollout onto trams and buses in late August.


The texting service allows people to inform police discreetly if they are in a difficult situation.


Victoria Police Superintendent Alison Boyes said information from text notifications would help police identify and hold perpetrators to account.

“Victoria Police can then determine where to deploy members and tackle recidivist offending,” Superintendent Boyes said.

Users of the service will be able to notify police about six types of conduct, comprising unwanted sexual advances, suspicious activities, threatening and offensive actions, obscene and racist language, drug- and alcohol-related incidents, graffiti and property damage.

After texting, the person will receive a link to a digital form to submit details of the incident, including the time, date, location and public transport carriage number. A photograph of the perpetrator can be submitted if it is safe.

A dedicated team of transit police will receive the information for further investigation.

Inner City News spoke to commuters at the Swanston St tram stop by the Sydney Myer Asia Centre in Parkville.

Sangita, 29, a regular commuter, said she had experienced unwanted behaviour on a tram. “There was a man on the tram yelling at everyone; if I had been on my own, yes, I would have used this new texting service,” she said. She went on to say she did not travel on public transport at night.

Luna, 20, a student at the University of Melbourne who uses the tram daily, said she would also use the STOPIT app if she felt uncomfortable because of another passenger’s actions or comments. She was unaware of the app; however, Luna said, “it seems like a good idea.”

Ming, 21, said, “STOPIT was a good idea”, and she might use it when travelling after work.

Victoria Police points out that STOPIT is not monitored live.

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

Superintendent Boyes said Victoria Police research shows people who were subjected to unwanted sexual behaviour or witnessed it often did not report it at the time out of safety concerns or because they didn’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,” she said.

“Years of research and dedication have gone into creating this service to ensure it’s accessible to anyone, anytime.”

“Any situation which makes someone feel unsafe or uncomfortable is not okay.”

“We want to hear about people’s experiences to help make the network a safe place for everyone.”

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

Victoria Police worked with the Department of Transport, public transport operators, the Public Transport Users Association and women’s advocacy groups to develop STOPIT. The service is available in 13 languages. •

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