Protecting yourself

Whether you’re at home, out and about at night or on holiday, you should do everything you can to protect yourself. For the most part this simply means not putting yourself in situations where you could be at risk. Be alert, keep your home and belongings secure and always plan your journeys.

General advice on staying safe

The chances of being robbed or attacked, either at home or when you’re out and about are thankfully pretty small. But you should still remember to:

  • be aware of what’s going on around you
  • don’t flash your valuables, mobile or money about
  • always plan your journey

If you’re getting money out of a cash machine, always keep an eye on what’s going on around you. Check the machine before you use it and always cover your hand when you’re entering your PIN.

Self defence

If you see a crime is about to take place or you think that someone is going to commit a crime against you or your home, it can be very difficult to know what to do. You should always try to contact the police or call for help before confronting any attacker or person committing a crime

However, in the heat of the moment, you may want to try and stop what’s happening.

Using reasonable force

The law says you can use reasonable force to:

  • protect yourself
  • protect another person
  • prevent a crime

There is no clear definition of what reasonable force is, it will be for a court to judge the individual circumstances. But if you do use force it is likely that the police will investigate your actions.

You could be arrested and prosecuted for causing an injury or death. If you are prosecuted, a court will look at the amount of force you used and decide if it was reasonable in the circumstances as you believed them to be at the time.

At home

When you’re at home, lock doors, close windows and keep keys somewhere they can’t be reached from outside. Always check the ID of any callers you don’t know before answering the door.  

While you want to do everything you can to protect your belongings, remember they can be replaced, you can’t. There are lots of things you can do to increase the chance of getting your things back if they do get stolen.

Out and about at night

If you’re heading out on a night out, don’t put yourself at risk by drinking too much, going off alone, or leaving with someone you don’t know.

You should, always:

  • plan your night
  • know how you’re getting home – book a taxi or ask a friend or family member to pick you up
  • charge your mobile and make sure you have enough credit to make calls
  • keep emergency numbers in your mobile
  • stay with your friends – agree a meeting place in case you get split up
  • stay away from dark streets and alleys – stick to busy areas with plenty of street lights
  • check on your friends - call or text them to make sure they got home safe

Carrying a personal alarm can also make you feel a lot safer. They’re not expensive and you can usually buy them at your local DIY store. When you turn it on the alarm will give off a high-pitched sound that can shock anyone that's attacking you.

Getting about

If you are travelling by yourself, getting a taxi or using public transport is much safer than walking. However, you should still use your common sense to stay safe.

Walking

Whenever it’s possible, try and walk with someone else or a group of friends. You're less likely to be attacked or mugged if you're with other people.

If you are walking alone, always be aware of what's going on around you. Stay in busy areas with plenty of street lights and always avoid alleys or shortcuts.

Try not to listen to your headphones, especially at night. As well as being distracting, it's showing that you have something that's worthwhile stealing. Make sure you keep any valuables tucked safely away in your coat or bag.

Getting a taxi

If you’re getting a taxi make sure it’s licensed. Keep the number of a taxi company you trust on your mobile. Ask the taxi to pick you up directly outside where you are and stay inside until it arrives. If you do have to wait outside make sure to stay in a crowded area with plenty of street lights.

If you don’t know any taxi companies in the area, call directory enquiries or go into a shop or restaurant nearby and ask them to call one for you. Always check for the taxi’s licence plate and roof sign, and remember, if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t get in.

Travelling on public transport

Make sure that you catch a bus at a stop that has other people waiting there. If you are getting a train, wait in an area of the platform with plenty of light where you can see if anyone is approaching you.

Once you’re on board, try to sit somewhere where there are plenty of people or next to the driver. If you feel uncomfortable or afraid then speak to the driver. Most trains have emergency alarms. If you get into trouble don’t be afraid to use them.

Protecting yourself on holiday

When on holiday it is easy to forget about the things that are home to keep ourselves safe. Before you go and while you’re there, remember to:

  • read the travel advice for the area – look for any areas you should avoid and any particular risks you should be aware of
  • find out about transport in the local area – plan how you’re going to get about
  • never leave your bag, luggage or personal belongings unattended
  • if you’re taking a taxi ask a local for a recommendation or get your hotel to book it for you
  • check public transport times – don’t get caught out on a night out by missing the last train or bus
  • keep your valuables, cash and passport somewhere safe – if you’re in a hotel use your room safe
  • don’t carry around lots of cash – only take what you need for each day or night

Lastly, it sounds obvious but don’t accept anything for anyone you don’t know. Be wary of strangers approaching you. If you feel uncomfortable speak to your holiday rep, hotel, nearest embassy or the local police.

 

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