Crime Prevention Advice - Personal Security
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The chances of you or a member of your family becoming a victim of violent crime are low. Violent crimes by strangers in public places are still rare and account for a very small part of recorded crime.
However, you can make yourself even less likely to be the victim of a violent crime - for example, robbery (mugging) or assault - by taking a few sensible precautions. Many are common sense, and may be things that you already do. Making yourself safer doesn't mean changing your entire lifestyle, personality or wardrobe, and it doesn't mean never going out at all.
Click here for our quick guide to being safe not sorry!
Think about how you would act in different situations before you are in them. Would you stay and defend yourself (using reasonable force), risking further injury, or would you give an attacker what they want, to avoid injury. There is nothing wrong with doing either, but think about the options - there will be no time to do so if you are attacked.
Some general points
- You will be safest in bright, well-lit and busy areas.
- Try to look and act confident - look like you know where you are going and walk tall.
- You might like to spread your valuables around your body. For example, keep your phone in your bag, your house keys in your trouser pocket and your money in your jacket.
- If someone tries to take something from you, it may be better to let them take it rather than to get into a confrontation and risk injury.
- You can use reasonable force in self-defence. You are allowed to protect yourself with something you are carrying anyway (for example, keys or a can of deodorant), but you may not carry a weapon.
- Carry a personal attack alarm and at night consider carrying a torch
- If you decide to defend yourself, be aware that your attacker might be stronger than you, or may take what you are using in self-defence and use it against you. It is often better just to shout loudly and run away.
- Shout 'fire' rather than 'help' - it can get more results.
- If you use a wheelchair, keep your things beside you rather than at the back of the chair.
- Try not to be conspicuous about the valuables you are carrying. Talking on your mobile phone, carrying a laptop, or showing your friend your new gold ring all show thieves that you are worth robbing.
- When out walking or jogging, you should not listen to music through headphones, so you can stay more alert to your surroundings
Personal safety: theft and robbery
Street robbery is generally known as mugging. It can also cover snatching bags. Pickpocketing is slightly different, as you will not be aware of the offence taking place. Robbery is more likely to take place in quiet or dark areas, and pickpocketing where it is busy, for example, on a busy train in rush hour.
Young men are most likely to be the victims of robbery, and are typically attacked by other young men.
If someone tries to take something from you by force, it may be best to give it to him or her. This will help you avoid getting injured.
But you can take the following actions to reduce the effects of a theft, if it happens to you.
- Keep your cards separate from your cheque books.
- If your cards are stolen, call your bank or credit-card company as soon as possible. Most banks put the number to call if your cards are stolen on your statement. They are also often shown on cash machines.
- If your phone is stolen, report your number to your network and the police - the handset can now be barred on all networks and will be useless to thieves.
- Register your phone with your network operator.
- Record your registration number (IMEI) and your phone number. Keep these in a safe place separate from your phone. You can get your IMEI number (15-digit serial number) by keying *#06# into most phones or by looking behind your phone battery.
- Report the number of your stolen phone to your network operator and the police as quickly as you can. It can now be cancelled immediately like a stolen credit card.
- Stay alert - your phone is a valuable item. When you are out, be aware of your surroundings and don't use your phone in crowded areas or where you might feel unsafe
Personal safety: transport
This section offers some general tips on how to keep yourself safe and secure when you're making a journey - either catching a bus or taxi, or when you're in the car.
- As with everything, you are safest where there are other people, and where it is light or well lit.
- Plan your route.
- Try to wait in busy or well-lit areas.
- Sit near other people, near the driver if you are on a bus, or near the conductor if you are on a train.
- Move if someone makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Keep your car in good condition and try not to run out of petrol.
- Keep doors locked when driving and keep bags, phones and other valuables out of sight, preferably in the boot.
- Try to park in well-lit or busy areas. If you park during the day, think about what the area will feel like after dark.
- Some car parks have 'Secured car park' accreditation. Find out which ones do locally and try to use them - look out for the 'Secured car park' sign or visit www.securecarparks.com
- If you break down on the motorway, follow the arrows to the nearest phone. Do not cross the carriageway. Wait outside your car (as far away as possible from the carriageway) unless you feel threatened, in which case you should sit in the passenger seat.
- Do not give lifts to or accept lifts with people you do not know, or do not know well.
- Do not drive if you have been drinking or taking drugs, and do not accept a lift from someone who has.
- You may feel more comfortable carrying a mobile phone with you. Try to keep it out of sight, and do not use it while driving.
- If you are going to be out late, try to arrange a lift home or book a taxi. Check that the taxi that arrives is
- the one you ordered.
- If you can pre-book your taxi, make a note of the company you are using and the phone number, and leave it with a friend.
- Always keep the number of a reliable firm handy.
- Avoid minicabs or private-hire cars that tout for business and are unlicensed.
- Always sit behind the driver in the back seat.
- If you feel uneasy, ask to be let out in a well-lit area where there are plenty of people.
- If in any doubt, don't get in the taxi.
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