London is a wonderful place to live in or visit and it is as safe as any other large city around the world. However, as with anywhere else, crime does exist so it makes sense to take a few practical precautions to reduce any risks. These can not only make you safer but can make you feel safer, giving you the confidence to get out and about and explore all this magnificent city has to offer.
On the Street
Plan ahead. Before you go out, think about how you are going to get home.
Try to use well-lit, busy streets and avoid danger spots such as quiet, badly-lit alleyways, subways or isolated car parks. Walk down the middle of the pavement if the street is deserted.
Stay alert - If you are chatting on your mobile phone or wearing a personal stereo, you won’t hear potential danger approaching.
If you think you are being followed, walk as confidently as possible towards other people, either on the street or at a safe place, e.g. a shop, garage, pub, etc.
Always try to walk facing on-coming traffic to avoid kerb crawlers. If you do have to walk in the same direction as the traffic and a vehicle pulls up alongside you, turn and run in the other direction.
Consider carrying a personal safety alarm, which can be used to shock and disorientate an attacker giving you vital seconds to get away.
REMEMBER – Minicabs that pick up fares on the street, without being pre-booked, are illegal, un-insured and potentially very dangerous.
Trains & Buses
Check out times of the buses and trains before setting off to avoid long waiting times at bus stops and stations. You can get live information about bus arrival times at www.countdown.tfl.gov.uk.
Wait for a bus or train in a well-lit place near other people whenever possible. Have your pass or ticket ready in your hand so that your wallet is out of sight.
If a bus is empty or it is after dark, you may feel safer staying on the lower deck near the driver.
Avoid empty carriages on trains. Always try to sit where there are lots of people. If you feel uneasy, move to another seat or carriage.
If you feel threatened, try to make as much noise as possible to attract the attention of the driver or guard.
Taxis & Minicabs
Always use a taxi or licensed minicab.
Taxis (Hackney Carriages) can be hailed in the street. They look like purpose–built taxis or black cabs and have an illuminated taxi sign on the roof.
Licensed minicabs should not be hailed in the street. They must be pre-booked by phone or in person at the cab office. The driver should have ID and the vehicle will have a license displayed on it.
When booking a taxi or minicab, ask for the driver’s name and the make and colour of the car. Confirm the driver’s details when they arrive – is it the taxi or minicab you ordered?
Sit in the back of the car and be careful not to give out any personal details to or in front of the driver.
Trust your instincts – If you are at all worried, ask the driver to stop in a busy area and get out of the car. If the driver refuses to stop, use a mobile (if you have one) to call the police and alert other drivers and pedestrians by waving or calling out the window.
On a night out
If you are drinking alcohol, be careful not to let it affect your judgment or your ability to take care of yourself. Know your limit.
Watch drinks and food to ensure that nothing is added to them. If something tastes odd, do not eat/drink any more of it.
If you feel particularly strange after taking a drink (even a soft drink) or realise you have drunk too much, tell a friend immediately and make sure you are accompanied home by one of your own group.
Stay with your friends – or at least always make sure that someone you trust knows where you are and who you are with at all times.
Keeping valuables safe
Keep valuables out of sight and make sure you have at least one hand free and that you can move easily.
Avoid carrying all your valuables in your bag. Use pockets and keep keys, your mobile, purse/wallet in separate pockets.
Beware of pickpockets. Try to keep valuables in pockets on the inside of a jacket, preferably with a zip. If this is not possible, try to use tight pockets so that it will take more force to remove something and you will be more likely to feel it if someone tries. If you do put valuables in your bag, keep it shut and in front of you where you can see it at all times.
Avoid flashing expensive phones or cameras about. Consider using a cheap cover for them to disguise their value.
Consider carrying a separate ‘fake’ wallet with out of date credit cards and a little money. You can then hand this over to a mugger if necessary.
Keep a record of all important numbers in case the worst happens and your phone is taken.