Suzy Lamplugh Trust report reveals that 1 in 10 respondents have experienced harassment while exercising or playing sports in the last year 


  • Report finds outdoors sport pitches to be areas where harassment is most likely
  • Yet 78% of respondents experiencing harassment did not feel able to report it


Exercise and sport are a crucial part of our daily lives, promoting a healthy lifestyle and teamwork. However, a new YouGov survey conducted by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust for National Personal Safety Day 2023, supported by Peoplesafe, found that harassment had been experienced by respondents across all sports and exercise areas surveyed, including parks, sports clubs and leisure centres.  

In addition, we are shocked to reveal that 1 in 5 people who had taken an online exercise class in the last year had experienced harassment whilst engaging in this activity, and 1 in 10 of those had been sexually harassed specifically. As more of our lives take place online, demand for online exercise classes has risen exponentially[1] and it is now more important than ever that online spaces are free from harassment.


Respondents reported experiencing harassment at the following venues:

  • 19% harassed on an outdoors sport pitch
  • 14% harassed in a private gym
  • 13% who had exercised in the streets
  • 12% who had experienced in their local park in the last year
  • 9% who had exercised in a leisure of sports centre 


Significantly, more women who responded to the survey had experienced harassment whilst engaging in sports and exercise than male respondents (13% compared with 9%).

Despite the prevalence of harassment within sports and exercise communities, 78% of respondents who had experienced this had not reported the incident. We are therefore concerned that these figures may be the tip of the iceberg. In addition, 59% of respondents admitted they would not intervene if they witnessed harassment taking place during a physical activity. There is an urgent need for more education to empower bystanders to intervene in a safe way when they see harassment taking place.  

It is time to dismantle the deeply ingrained behavioural and cultural norms that have allowed harassment to fester unchecked in exercise and sports. We’re calling for everyone to be a #GameChanger by standing up to harassment in exercise and sport to tackle this behaviour once and for all.  


Based on the findings of this report, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust is making the following policy recommendations:  

  • Employers must embed clear, responsive and empathetic reporting processes that encourage staff, customers and members of sports teams to come forward to report incidents and foster a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment including signposting to support services.
  • The police must work with local community services to make the public aware of their rights through the new Protection from Sex-Based Harassment Act to ensure it is implemented effectively and supports all victims of public sexual harassment.  
  • The government must mandate recording and reporting of all incidents of harassment within the workplace, so that the scale of the issue can be analysed and measured in accordance with each industry.  
  • Sports clubs and gyms should facilitate organised opportunities and events to raise awareness about harassment and unwanted behaviours, such as implementing bystander intervention training for employees and the general public to sign up for. 


Suky Bhaker, CEO of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, says “We are extremely concerned by the findings of our research, which demonstrate that harassment during sports and exercise is still commonplace and widely under-reported. The statistics show the prevalence of these incidents and the lack of access to support. This is not good enough. It is all of our responsibility to work together to combat harassment. It is essential that criminal justice system professionals take all reports of harassment seriously. We would also like to see sports and exercise venues, as well as green spaces, work holistically to ensure they are safe by design and include women and girls in the planning process to recognise the nuanced ways in which a space can facilitate abuse.

“There is also an urgent need for the robust implementation of new legislation to combat public sexual harassment and workplace sexual harassment that we have campaigned tirelessly for. This National Personal Safety Day we want to galvanise widespread cultural change to tackle harassment and encourage everyone to be a #GameChanger. No one should be faced with violence, aggression and harassment when engaging in sports and exercise”. 


Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, says: “Harassment is never acceptable in any setting, however the findings of this research show that harassment remains pervasive in our society. We are delighted to have supported new legislation to criminalise public sexual harassment, which sends a clear message to repeat offenders that sexual harassment is unequivocally against the law. Yet there is an urgent need for this legislation to be supported by widespread behavioural and cultural change to ensure that everyone is free from the threat of harassment, including whilst engaging in sport or exercise.” 


Naz Dossa, Peoplesafe CEO and BSIA Chair of the Lone Working Group, says: "With 1 in 10 people experiencing harassment in sport, it's clear that there's an urgent need to raise awareness of personal safety. Everyone should feel free to partake in any activity without fear of harassment, and it's clear from these findings that for this to happen, behavioural and societal change is paramount. We're strong supporters of driving transformational change to improve personal safety for all. Whether it's councils creating safe spaces to exercise, businesses supporting their people or government leading the way through legislation, we're calling on everyone to work together collaboratively to make a difference."



All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2146 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th - 15th September 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).  




Authors of the report, representatives of Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Peoplesafe, and supporters are available for media comment by arrangement, please contact:          

 Suzy Lamplugh Trust: [email protected] / Tel: 07799089605 


Editors Notes 

About the Suzy Lamplugh Trust  

Suzy Lamplugh Trust is a national personal safety charity set up after the disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh over 35 years ago. Our mission is to reduce the risk of violence, aggression and abuse through campaigning, education and support. Suzy Lamplugh Trust runs the National Stalking Helpline, the only stalking helpline service for all victims across the UK, as well as the national advocacy service. The National Stalking Helpline has received over 70,000 contacts from victims of stalking since its inception in 2010. We have also developed Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety as a framework for employers to embed a culture of personal safety at work. Suzy Lamplugh Trust campaigns for better protections for victims of violence, aggression, harassment and stalking in policy and law.   


About Peoplesafe  

Peoplesafe is the leading provider of employee protection services in the UK. It partners with public and private sector organisations to ensure their employees are safe as they do their job.  

Peoplesafe has 20 years’ experience in providing state of the art technology, and innovative systems to help employers carry out their duty of care to protect employees. Employees in the Peoplesafe network are supported round the clock by an in-house team of Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) Controllers who answer and monitor alarms raised through personal safety devices and apps.  

Peoplesafe’s service is fully accredited, complies with the National Policy Chief Council’s security system policy and keeps employee data secure.