Christmas is a time to relax and have fun but it can also be very busy and stressful. You may be out and about more than usual – for that essential Christmas shopping and to festive parties and other social events – and the last thing you need is to become a victim of crime.
To help avoid this, consider some of the following advice courtesy of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust:
- Don’t get loaded down with too many bags. Try to keep one hand free.
- Try and avoid taking young children into busy shopping areas. If it is unavoidable make sure they know what to do if they lose you, eg. Tell the nearest counter assistant that they are lost and NEVER leave a shop without you.
- Agree a meeting point with older children in case you get separated.
- Be careful where you park your car, especially if you will be returning to it after dark.
- If parking in a multi-storey car park, choose a well-lit space as close to the exit as possible and away from pillars. Reverse into position.
- Keep car doors locked whilst driving in built up areas, especially if you’ve got bags of presents in the car.
- Don’t leave lots of presents on show in a parked car as they could tempt thieves.
- Keep alert and aware of your surroundings, especially in busy shops and crowded streets where thieves and pickpockets may well be operating.
- Keep a close watch on your valuables and try not to keep them all in one place.
Most of us like a drink or two but remember that alcohol will affect your judgment – don’t let it endanger your personal safety.
- The most common date rape drug is alcohol, with victims being given drinks with a far higher alcohol content than they think.
- Watch your drinks and food to ensure that nothing is added to them.
- Never to leave your drink unattended, even if you are going onto a dance floor or to the toilet.
- If your drink has been left unattended, do not drink any more of it.
- If something tastes or looks odd, do not eat/drink any more of it. Be aware though that some date rape drugs are colourless and tasteless.
- If someone you do not know or trust offers to buy you a drink, either decline or accompany them to the bar and watch that nothing is added to your drink.
- Know your own limit.
- If you meet someone new at a party, don’t go home with them or invite them back to your home or accept a lift from them. Arrange a second date in a public place to get to know the person better.
- Pay attention to your instincts. If you feel uneasy about someone, there may be a reason
- When it’s time to go home, carry your keys, mobile phone and some money in your pocket, so you can give up your handbag or wallet and escape quickly if necessary on the way home.
- The party’s over and you need to get home. You are likely to be tired and slightly the worse for wear so you need to be careful.
- The ideal plan is to book your cab or taxi in advance or call a licensed cab company from the party and arrange for them to pick you up right outside the venue.
- Never accept a lift from a minicab touting for trade. They are illegal and can be very dangerous.
- If necessary walk to the nearest minicab office – Keep to well-lit streets and walk against traffic and in sight of other people whenever possible.
- Always sit in the back of a cab and if you get chatting to the driver do not give away personal details. If you feel uneasy with the driver, ask him to stop at a busy familiar place and get out.
- If using public transport, have your ticket, pass or change ready in your hand so that your wallet is out of sight.
- Always wait for the bus or train in a well-lit place near other people if possible and try and arrange for someone to meet you at the bus stop or station.
- Take note of where the emergency alarms are and try and sit near them.
- If a bus is empty or it is after dark, stay on the lower deck as near as possible to the driver.
- On trains avoid empty compartments or compartments that have no access to corridors or other parts of the train. If you feel threatened on any public transport press the alarm and/or make as much noise as possible to attract attention of your fellow passengers or the driver or guard.
Lastly – If possible carry a personal alarm or personal safety smartphone app and know how to use it! There are a number of different devices and solutions available in the marketplace today.