How to be an active bystander

Staying safe in the city

If you witness a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable; such as physical misconduct, inappropriate jokes, leering, staring or any inappropriate or offensive behaviour, you can be an active bystander in different ways – either at the time of the event or afterwards.

What is an active bystander?

An active bystander has the knowledge and skills that mean they are confident in intervening to stop or diffuse a situation that they know is wrong. Statistics show that the more people who are confident in intervening the fewer incidents of bullying, harassment and violence take place.

Active bystanders help to create a community culture where victims feel supported and incidents of harassment are not tolerated.


Here are some useful tips to remember if you are witness to an uncomfortable situation:

The four Ds

Remembering ‘The four Ds’ can help you know what to do if you witness something that doesn’t seem right.

  • Direct: Intervening directly to stop a situation; this could be confronting a perpetrator or checking if the person being harassed is ok. You should only intervene once you have assessed the situation to ensure your personal safety.
  • Distract: If you don’t feel comfortable or safe intervening directly, you can diffuse the situation through indirect action, for example starting a conversation with the person being harassed and ignoring the perpetrator.
  • Delegate: Don’t feel like you need to act alone, there are lot of people on campus trained to support and prevent harassment on campus. You can delegate to Campus Security, Student Support, Halls staff, Guild Staff – whether it is bar staff, a society coordinator or advisor. You can delegate at the time or after the event.
  • Delayed: If it is not possible to intervene at the time, or if intervention would compromise your safety, you can still act after the event, it does not make your actions any less impactful. You can check if the individual involved is ok, question the perpetrator’s behaviour or report the incident.

Remember – consider your own safety first before intervening, and if your chosen approach does not feel safe, consider an alternative.

Bystander Intervention Training

The University continues to work with the Guild on effective measures to address sexual and online harassment, and to tackle and prevent all forms of harassment and abuse on our campus.

The Guild’s Bystander Intervention Training, which has been delivered to more than 2,000 student leaders in the last two years, continues to address harassment and abuse.

How to report an incident

Report + Support is our quick and simple reporting tool that you can use to report discrimination, misconduct, hate crime, harassment or assault and receive direct support. You can choose to use the tool anonymously, or you can leave your contact details.

Who to contact for further support

University Support Services

The University has a range of services in place to help support you through any non-academic issue.  Whatever help you need, Student Support will be there for you.

Guild Advice Centre 

The Guild Advice Centre offers free and confidential advice. You can email the team ( for a range of guidance, including if you would like advice on how to report and get support after an assault.