The chances that you, or a member of your family will be a victim of violent crime are low. Violent crimes are still comparatively rare and account for a very small part of recorded crime, Nevertheless, many people are frightened that they, or someone close to them, will be a victim of a violent attack.
The best way of minimising the risk of attack is by taking sensible precautions. You may already be aware of some of the suggestions listed below, they seem particularly relevant to women, but men can contribute positively towards women’s safety, as well as reducing the risk of assault to themselves.How can you stay safe?Out and About
- If you often walk home in the dark, get a personal attack alarm from a DIY store or ask your local crime prevention officer where you can buy one. Carry it in your hand so you can use it immediately to scare off an attacker. Make sure it is designed to continue sounding if it’s dropped or falls to the ground.
- Carry your bag close to you with the clasp facing inwards. Carry your house keys in your pocket. If someone grabs your bag, let it go. If you hang on, you could get hurt. Remember your safety is more important than your property.
- If you think someone is following you, check by crossing the street – more than once if necessary – to see if he/she follows. If you are still worried, get to the nearest place where there are other people – a pub or anywhere with a lot of lights on – and call the police. Avoid using an enclosed phone box in the street, as the attacker could trap you inside.
- If you regularly go jogging or cycling, try to vary your route and time. Stick to well lit roads with pavements. On commons and parklands, keep to main paths and open spaces where you can see and be seen by other people – avoid wooded areas. If you wear a personal stereo, remember you can’t hear traffic, or somebody approaching you from behind.
- Don’t take shortcuts through dark alleys, parks or across waste ground. Walk facing the traffic so a car cannot pull up behind you unnoticed.
- If a car stops and you are threatened, scream and shout, and set off your personal attack alarm if you have one. Get away as quickly as you can. This will gain you vital seconds and make it more difficult for the car driver to follow. If you can, make a mental note of the number and description of the car. Write down details as soon as possible afterwards.
- Don’t hitch hike or take lifts from strangers.
- Cover up expensive looking jewellery.
Self defence and safety awareness classes may help you feel more secure. Ask you local police or at your work if they have classes.
On Public Transport
- If you are going to be out late, try to arrange a lift home or book a taxi. Check that the taxi which arrives is the one you ordered. Ask for a description of the car – colour, make, etc, and check this when it arrives. If you gave your name when you booked, check that the driver can tell you it before you get in. When you get home, ask the driver to wait until you are inside.
- There are many reputable mini-cab or private hire car companies but these must be booked either at their office or by phone. In some cases the driver will carry identification. Always keep the number of a reliable firm handy. Avoid mini-cabs or private hire cars that tout for business.
- Always sit behind the driver.
- If you feel uneasy, ask to be let out in a well lit area where there are plenty of people.
- If in doubt, don’t get in the taxi.
- Try to stay away from isolated bus stops, especially after dark.
- On an empty bus, sit near the driver or conductor.
- On a train, sit in a compartment where there are several other people – ideally one that is near the exit of your destination. Check to see where the emergency chain is.
Safe at Home?
- Before a long trip, make sure your vehicle is in good condition.Plan how to get to your destination before leaving, and stay on main roads if you can.
- Make sure you have enough money and petrol. Carry a spare petrol can.
- Keep change and a phone card in case you need to make a telephone call. Carry a torch.
- Before you leave, tell anyone you are planning to meet what time you will get there, and the route you are taking.
- If someone tries to flag you down, drive on until you come to a service station, or somewhere busy, and call the police. Do not pick up hitch-hikers.
- Keep doors locked when driving and keep any bag, mobile phone or valuables out of sight. If you have a window open, only wind it down a little. Don’t’ wind it down far enough to allow someone to reach in while you are stopped in traffic.
- If you think you are being followed, try to alert others by flashing your lights and sounding your horn. Make as much noise as possible. If you can, keep driving until you come to a busy place.
- After dark, park in a well lit, busy place and look around before you get out. If you’re parking in daylight, but coming back for your car at night, think about how things will look in the dark.
- Have your key ready when you go back to your car. Make sure there is no one in the car.
- If your car develops problems, find a telephone. On motorways follow the marker arrows to the closest phone. They are never placed more than a mile apart, on opposite sides of the motorway. Never cross the carriageway to use a phone.
- While on the hard shoulder or telephoning, keep a sharp look-out and don’t accept lifts from strangers – wait for the police or breakdown service. Don’t wait in the car – there is a high risk of an accident. Wait on the embankment nearby with the front passenger door open. If someone approaches you or you feel threatened, lock yourself in the car and speak to them through a small gap in the window.
- If you frequently have to travel after dark, or if your job involves visiting people at home, e.g. a health visitor or a district nurse, consider getting a mobile phone, or ask your employer to provide one.
For further advice on personal safety or crime related information, click on any of the following websites:
- Suzy Lamplugh Trust: www.suzylamplugh.org
- Victim Support: www.victimsupport.org
- Protective Behaviours: www.protectivebehaviours.co.uk
- Home Office: www.homeoffice.gov.uk
- Thames Valley Police: www.thamesvalley.police.uk
Most of the advice given so far has been to help you to avoid assault by strangers. Sadly, women are in fact more likely to be at risk from people they know.
Violent attack, inside or outside the home is a criminal offence. Nobody has the right to abuse you physically, sexually or emotionally.
Always dial 999 in an emergency.
For free advice, or to report a non-emergency crime in Buckinghamshire,
Call 0845 8 505 505
01895 837365 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.thamesvalley.police.uk