Read the full module below or use the links on the left to navigate to the different sub-topics. Click here to download the full pdf version of this module.
Out at night
You are more vulnerable to both attack and injury if you’ve been drinking, especially around other drinkers. Stop drinking when your senses begin to be impaired. Intersperse alcoholic drinks with soft drinks - this will also help to prevent you from becoming dehydrated, a common cause of a hangover.
Look after friends and walk away from confrontations. Keep your eye on your drinks so that you know nothing has been added to them - be wary of accepting drinks from people you do not know unless you have seen the drink poured at the bar and are certain it could not have been spiked. Similarly, avoid leaving your drink unattended. If you need to go to the toilet ask a trusted friend to look after your drink for you.
There are more police patrolling town centres on Friday and Saturday nights to help with safety concerns, and some town centres also have taxi marshalling schemes.
Keep valuables out of sight and keep to well lit, busy areas.
Download the Suzy Lamplugh Trust 'Night Out' safety leaflet.
Walking with confidence
Plan your route and try to walk with a friend if possible. At night keep to well-lit busy roads and thoroughfares where you can. Try to avoid short cuts through parks, alleyways or car parks.
- Be aware of what is going on around you.
- Avoid wearing headphones as they will make it harder to hear people approaching you, and may also indicate that you have something (music player) worth attempting to steal.
- Carry a torch for dark areas.
- Walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic.
- If you are walking across a common or parkland keep to the main paths and open spaces where you can see and be seen.
- Avoid wooded areas.
Consider carrying a personal attack alarm; they are cheap and available from many DIY stores. Carry it in your hand, not your bag or pocket, so that if needed you can use it immediately.
If you think you’re being followed, cross the street, perhaps several times, to check. If you can, go into a shop and stay there until you're sure you're safe. If you are really worried, find a busy place and call police. Remember that people may be intimidated if you walk close behind them.
If a vehicle driver stops and speaks to you:
- Keep your distance from the vehicle.
- If you feel threatened, move away quickly in the opposite direction from the way the car is facing.
- If you can, try to remember vehicle details (number plate, make, colour) and call the police.
Never accept a lift from someone you don't know well or don't feel comfortable with.
Be careful with electronics - talking on a mobile phone, listening to an MP3 player or carrying a laptop bag shows thieves that you have something to steal. It's also a good idea to cover up expensive jewellery.
Watch out for pickpockets, particularly in crowded places. Take the following precautions:
- Keep valuables out of sight and in front trouser pockets if possible.
- Don't carry important documents or credit cards that you do not need.
- Consider using a purse chain.
- If you're carrying a bag, try to have it across your chest and keep your hand over the fastening.
- If someone grabs your bag, let it go - your safety is more important than your property.
- Try to avoid using cash machines at night.
- Only take your wallet out when you need to.
If you take a regular route walking the dog, jogging or cycling, try to make variations and go at different times.
Download the Suzy Lamplugh Trust 'Keeping safe on the streets' leaflet.
Plan routes, keep maps and torches in cars and try to keep to main roads when possible, even when using satnav, so you don’t have to ask directions.
For long journeys, make sure your vehicle is in good condition and properly equipped with enough fuel, oil and screen wash as well as anything extra you may need for particular weather conditions. It's also a good idea to make sure you have a charged mobile phone with you and, if possible, an in-car charger (you can buy phone chargers that fit into the cigarette lighter socket).
If someone tries to flag you down for help, don’t stop immediately. Keep driving until you get to the next public place, then call the police to help them.
If you think you’re being followed, don't go home. Go to a public place that you know will be open, such as a petrol station or 24-hour supermarket.
If you break down, put your hazard warning lights on. Telephone for help and let police and breakdown staff know if you’re alone. Sit in the front passenger seat with the doors locked. On motorways, it is safer to sit away from the car on the embankment, leaving the passenger door open so that you can get back in quickly if you feel threatened.
When leaving your car:
- Make sure it is properly secured.
- Don't leave valuables on display in the car.
- Remove the satnav if you have one, clean any tell-tale marks off the windscreen and replace the cigarette lighter in its socket.
- Even a coat on the seat or an empty carrier bag can attract thieves so make sure you put everything into the boot of the car.
- Use a good quality steering wheel lock.
Download the Suzy Lamplugh Trust driving safety leaflet.
Always use a reputable mini-cab or private hire car firm and book at their office or by phone. Remember that only licensed Hackney Carriages are allowed to pick people up in the street without making a booking first. Private hire firms must be pre-booked.
Check your taxi is the one you booked. Give your name at the time of booking and ask the driver to repeat it before you get in. Look for identification on the driver or vehicle. If you are not sure about the driver, do not get in. If you feel uneasy once you are in the taxi, ask the driver to let you out at a busy, well-lit place.
At the end of your journey, ask the driver not to drive off until you get indoors.
Find out if your town has a Taxi Marshalling Scheme at weekends. These are available in many major towns and cities.
Buses and trains
On buses, try and avoid isolated stops. If you want to feel safer, sit on the lower bus deck near the driver. On trains or tubes, sit in a busy carriage.
If you are arriving at night, try and arrange to be met by someone at your destination. Use main escalators and walkways where there is CCTV.
For more information about railway safety see www.railcommunitysafety.com
Suzy Lamplugh Trust is the national charity for personal safety. It provides advice on minimising risk.
You can also contact the Trust by email, post or telephone:
Suzy Lamplugh Trust
London WC2R 1AT
020 7091 0014
Community Legal Advice offers free, confidential and independent legal advice for residents of England and Wales.