It’s not always easy to know what to do when you see a problematic situation, how we think we’ll act and how we act may not always be the same.  

See It

We want people to get to know the facts on harassment hate crime and sexual violence. Acts of harassment hate crime and sexual violence often start with negative attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes about other people. These beliefs are cultivated through exposure and repeated reinforcement by those around them and they can form prejudices.

Know its a Problem

As a bystander there are a range of problematic behaviours that you might witness. These behaviours could involve one or more of the following.

  • Ageism
  • Disabalism
  • Homophobia
  • Racism
  • Religious Hate
  • Sexism
  • Transphobia

Take Responsibility

If problematic behaviour is normalised we risk sending harmful messages and if left unchallenged prejudicial and discriminatory behaviour can lead to more serious acts of hate and violence, including:

  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Hate Crime
  • Sexual Violence 

By modelling healthy, positive behaviour and calling out negative inappropriate behaviours we can positively challenge these attitudes. 

Don't be a bystander Speak Up! Stand Up!  Call it out and report it.

Take Action 

As bystander you might witness an incident or someone might disclose something after it has happened. If you witness something that doesn’t feel right there are a range of responses you can choose. As an active bystander you can challenge negative attitudes and beliefs, respond to events while they are happening and support a person or people who have experienced something.


Ask yourself is it an emergency.

  • Is a crime happening or has it just happened?
  • Is anyone in immediate danger, or is there a risk of serious damage to property?
  • Is there a suspect of a serious crime nearby?

If so ask the person disclosing the incident if they would like to contact the emergency services.  It’s important that the person disclosing is given choice and control over what happens. However, if you believe that it is an emergency and there is a genuine and immediate threat to a person’s health or safety you should call the emergency services on 999.


You can be direct. 

  • You can ask the person being targeted if they are ok or if they need help.
  • You can talk to the person causing the problem directly and challenge their behaviour.
  • You can use non-verbal communication; you can make eye contact with the target or simply stand next to them to show your support. 
  • You can talk to other bystanders and if possible engage allies to help you take direct action.

Remember as an active bystander you should always stay calm and respectful.


You can move the attention away from the person being targeted.

  • You can start a conversation with the person being targeted.
  • You can ask the person being targeted to help you with something, this could be asking for directions or help with a task.
  • You could cause a distraction by spilling a drink or dropping something.
  • You can talk to other bystanders and if possible engage allies to help you disrupt the situation.

Shifting the focus away from the target can prevent the situation from escalating. Following this you can talk to the person about the situation. 


You can delegate action to someone else. 

  • You can talk to a lecturer, someone from an advice service, or a fellow member of staff or a manager.
  • If you are on campus you can contact the Security Services on 0161 306 9966
  • If you are on a night out you can talk to the bar or door staff and raise a concern
  • You can record the incident in some way so that you can report it. 

It’s ok if you don’t feel ok to intervene in the situation. There might be many reasons why your intervention is not the right thing to do.  Finding someone else to intervene or finding a way to report it is important.  Don’t assume someone else will do it, take responsibility. 


If someone you know has experienced an incident and they disclose this to you there are lots of ways in which you can help them. 


Respect what someone is telling you. Disclosures can come in many forms and it’s important to remember that a person’s reactions can vary.  People might describe directly what has or is happening to them and how it's making them feel.  Others might say something jokingly or start a story and then stop. They might be afraid, angry or have no outward reaction at all.  They might even act in ways that seem unusual to you, even laughing at seemingly inappropriate times.

You can: 

  • Listen. Let people talk, summarise and reflect what they have said. 
  • Empathise.  Try to understand and validate their emotions.
  • Ask. Ask the person what they would like to happen, what is their ideal outcome
  • Problem Solve. As if they would like to explore possible options with them


There are a range of options you can explore.  They might want to:

  • Do nothing.
  • Get support. 
  • Report the incident anonymously or report it and get support.
  • Make a formal complaint. 

Report & Support 

If you or someone you know has experienced problematic behaviour you can use the University’s Report and Support Platform.  This allows you to report something anonymously or report it and get confidential support from a Harassment Support Advisor. 



There are two ways you can tell us what happened