The 6th of October is National Personal Safety Day, organised by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. The aim of the campaign is to promote safety awareness from when you leave your front door until you reach your destination. Instead of being frightened by the risks of working or travelling alone, nor should they be complacent. It is important people have the confidence to get from door to door and be aware of some simple precautions to help keep themselves safe and avoid potentially dangerous situations.
- Always make sure your phone is charged – You can’t dial 999 if you have a flat battery. As long as your phone is charged, even if you don’t have any credit you can call the emergency services if you are in trouble
- Plan you routes to and from your destination, especially if you’ve not been there before. Let someone know where you are going, what time and what route you plan to take
- Keep your valuables out of sight. Use the internal pockets of your bag (try to use bags with extra zip pockets to make it difficult for pickpockets) for carrying cash and phones. Consider removing your jewellery until you get to your destination
- Avoid using poorly lit streets or cut-throughs – Stay in busy areas.
- Walk towards oncoming traffic – It is very easy for a vehicle to come from behind and pull along side you or block your path so it is important you can see what’s coming towards you. If you have no choice but to walk in the same direction as the traffic and a vehicle pulls up suddenly turn and walk or run in the opposite direction (try to wear sensible shoes – you can always change them when you get where you’re going!)
- Stay alert. Don’t wear headphones – you should be able to listen for approaching footsteps or vehicles. Avoid using your phone (talking or texting can distract your attention from your surroundings), unless you are worried in which case you could call a friend and tell them exactly where you are or if necessary you could call 999.
- If you use public transport try to use busy carriages. Wait for your bus or train in a well lit area and have your ticket in your hand so you can keep your wallet out of sight. If the bus/train is fairly empty sit near the driver or make sure you can move through to another carriage. If you still feel threatened, make some noise – use an alarm, shout – and keep doing it until you have the attention of the driver/guard or other passengers.
- If you need a taxi, it should be licensed. Book in advance and let someone know what company you are using. When booking ask for details of the car that will be collecting you, such as the colour etc. When the driver arrives wait for him to confirm his booking, don’t ask ‘is this the taxi for ….’ Ask for their ID, and sit behind the driver. If you feel worried or threatened call someone and tell them where you are and long you’ll be, or if necessary call the police.
We would also recommend you carry a personal alarm. Most personal alarms will have some form of keyring attachment or lanyard so you can attach it to your bag strap or around your wrist so it is close. They can then be activated by pressing a button or by pulling it from the chain. The noise should be extremely load and piercing – The noise can help to startle a would be attacker, and deter them as they know that passers by would have been alerted to possible danger.
Another option is a self defence spray. In the UK it is illegal to carry any form of pepper spray or noxious gas, but the DMS and Defence ID sprays are completely non-toxic. They contain coloured water with a UV tracer. They are not harmful in any way, but they are effective simply because the power of the spray startles the would be attacker, and usually forces them to momentarily close their eyes which gives you valuable seconds to make your escape and call the police. The colouring means that the attacker is easily identifiable to police and passers by as a possible threat. The police can use a UV light to detect the UV tracer on the subjects skin and clothes to confirm they have the right suspect.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust has lots of information about how to stay safe on public transport, when working alone, on a night out and so on. You shouldn’t feel frightened when working or travelling on your own, and hopefully some of these easy tips will give people the confidence to get from door to door by themselves. You can contact the Trust for more details on how you can get involved with the campaign, and to download safety posters – posters and cards etc can be put up where you work or handed to colleagues, friends and family to raise their awareness of their personal safety.