Keeping safe out and about

The chance of you being robbed or attacked is thankfully pretty small. However, you should know what to do if you find yourself in a threatening situation.

General advice

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 there's more than one person.

You should always keep alert and aware of what's going on around you. You may be tired but if you fall asleep on public transport, you're more likely to have your bag or your coat stolen.

It's also not a good idea to listen to music through your headphones. 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 bag.

Carrying a personal alarm can also make you feel a lot safer. If you activate it, the alarm will give off a high-pitched sound that can shock anyone that's attacking you.

You can buy a personal alarm from a lot of high street shops. If you're at college or university, your student union may sell them at a reduced price or give them away for free.

Walking home

If you have to walk home alone at night, there are a few rules that you should follow to keep yourself out of danger.

Make sure you stay on roads that are well lit and that are relatively busy. This will make it easier to see anyone who may be approaching you.

It's often tempting to take a shortcut through the park or down an alleyway. However, a lot of attacks happen in these areas so don't take an unnecessary risk just to cut your journey time by a few minutes.

If you do think you're being followed, cross the road or go into a shop. If you're scared that the person who was following you is waiting outside, tell the person working in the shop. They can check to see if there's anyone hanging around or let you use their telephone to call somebody to come and collect you.

Travelling on a bus

If you are travelling by yourself and you know how to get home, using public transport is much safer than walking. However, you should still use your common sense to help you stay safe at all times.

Make sure that you catch a bus at a stop that has other people waiting there. It might mean queuing for longer than you'd like, but it's less scary than waiting by yourself.

Once you get on the bus, try to sit downstairs as it's easier to alert the driver if something does happen that makes you uncomfortable. If you can, sit in a seat next to the aisle so you can move seats easily if you want to.

Travelling on a train

Wait in an area of the platform with plenty of light where you can see if anyone is approaching you. You may also want to stand near a platform attendant for extra safety.

When your train arrives, choose a carriage with people already in it. Also, look out for where the emergency alarms are. If you get into trouble, don't be afraid to use them.

If you are feeling uncomfortable, change carriages. If there's no way of getting through while the train is moving, stand by the door and change when you get to the next station.

Carrying your belongings around

When you're out and about, there are a few things to remember that will reduce the chances of getting your things stolen.

It's a lot easier for a pickpocket to take your wallet or purse out of a back pocket, so always carry it in a front one. When you need to pay for something or use a cash machine, only take your wallet out when you need to and don't flash your cash about. This just lets criminals know you're carrying something around that's worth stealing.

If you're carrying a bag, try to have it around your front with your hand over the fastening. This makes it easier for you to tell if someone is attempting to snatch it.

Finally, if you like listening to music on the move, carry your MP3 player in an inside pocket and your headphone wires are hidden beneath your clothes.

Carrying your phone

If you're not making a call, make sure that your phone is hidden away. Keep it in one of your front pockets or inside a bag. Don't attach it to your belt or around your neck.

Thieves are opportunists, so don't make yourself an easy target by showing off the handset you're carrying around.

Lots of people take their phones out of their pockets when they're sitting down. If you're out with your friends, don't put your phone on a table as anyone walking by can easily run off with it.

Making a call

If you're making a call on your mobile in a public area, make sure you always keep an eye on what's going on around you. Thieves go to great lengths to get their hands on the latest handsets, so keep your wits about you.

You should also try to avoid using your mobile phone in public at night. If you do have to use your phone, try to find an area that's well-lit. Also avoid getting out your phone at train stations and bus stops as these are areas that thieves target.

Protecting your bike

Keep your bike safe in the same way as you would protect a car. Always lock it up when you leave it unattended.

Buy a strong and reliable lock that you can use to secure your bike to a fence, or remove a wheel whenever you park it. You can also mark the frame of your bike with an ultraviolet marker.

To increase the chances of recovering your bike if it is stolen:

  • mark it in a way that identifies you as the owner
  • ask the police for a recorded cycle form

Once you've filled in the form, the details will be added to a national database which can help match recovered bikes to their owners.

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