STOPIT: new text message service to report anti-social behaviour on public transport

Craig Duff

Posted August 26, 2022

Victoria Police has launched a text-messaging service allowing public transport users to report non-urgent incidents of anti-social behaviour.

While the vast majority of public transport users are well behaved and courteous citizens, a few bad eggs get up to mischief, cause a nuisance, or act inappropriately. This sort of behaviour on public transport is nothing new.

What is new, is a service launched by Victoria Police where people who experience anti-social or unwanted sexual behaviour can now report it discretely via text message.

The “STOPIT” service was introduced after research for Victoria Police showed that people who experience or witness antisocial behaviour often don’t report it at the time - particularly unwanted sexual behaviour.

Victoria Police’s studies show this is down to two simple facts: victims and witnesses are concerned for their own safety, and don’t know how to make a complaint.

STOPIT enables commuters to send a report illustrating their concerns without it being obvious that they’re doing so. People who see non-urgent anti-social behaviour are encouraged to text the word “STOPIT” to 0499 455 455.

After texting the number, the sender will receive a link to an online form that enables them to share details of the incident, such as the type of behaviour, what service, and time it occurred on.

The form also has provision for users to upload an image or video.

Victoria Police said the form can be completed at the time of the incident or after it has occurred.

That information, while not live-monitored, then enables the police to help identify and catch offenders and informs resource-tasking to deter offenders (having more police on a particular service).

It applies to all public transport in Victoria, be that a tram to Hawthorn, a V-Line train to Geelong or a Ballarat bus.

"RACV welcomes Victoria Police's new messaging service, STOPIT. Anything that can make our public transport network safer and help create a more enjoyable experience for all public transport users is a benefit," said RACV Head of Policy, James Williams.

Why use STOPIT?

STOPIT was designed to remove barriers and gather more information about matters on public transport that largely go unreported.

Research undertaken for Victoria Police showed people who specifically experience or witness unwanted sexual behaviour often don't report it at the time out of safety concerns.

With STOPIT, commuters can notify police about incidents easily and discreetly. Each notification is assessed by a team of transit police and is escalated when required.

Victoria Police said that “every piece of information, no matter how trivial, can help police piece together an investigation or identify emerging trends, and deploy more resources where they are needed most”.

“Addressing unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport is everyone’s responsibility – if you see something, say something”.

The STOPIT SMS service can be used on Melbourne trains, trams and buses.

The STOPIT SMS service can be used on Melbourne trains, trams and buses.

When do I call 000 rather than text STOPIT?

The triple zero (000) number is intended to be used by people who are in immediate danger and require urgent police assistance.

If that isn’t the case, and you would like to notify police about an incident you experienced or witnessed on public transport that made you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, texting STOPIT is the better approach.

STOPIT is an information-gathering tool for poice to help identify recidivist offenders and trends. Triple zero (000) is for emergencies only.

The STOPIT service provides several disclaimers before, during and after which clearly states it is not to be used if an urgent response is required.

If users reply “YES” to needing immediate assistance, they are instantly re-directed to a Triple Zero (000) button and can call from there.

How does STOPIT work?

Victoria Police says STOPIT is a notification service designed specifically for incidents that occur on the public transport network (trains, trams and buses) and is not a formal report of an incident.

It can also be a tool for people who want police to know about a situation but don’t want to make a formal report, which may include making a statement and giving evidence.

Each notification will be reviewed by transit police and if deemed critical or serious, transit detectives will follow up with the person for more information.

The 131 444 Police Assistance Line can be used to make a formal report of a non-urgent crime beyond the public transport network, including theft, lost property and property damage.


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