#NWPChristmas: Personal Safety
Thursday 22 Nov 2018
North Wales is a safe place to live and visit. But however slight the risks, they are there – so think carefully about your personal safety and reduce the chance of becoming a victim of crime this Christmas. Most importantly have fun and stay safe.
Many people enjoy a drink or two especially during the festive season. However don’t take risks and don’t let alcohol or drugs endanger your personal safety. Consider these simple steps when planning your nights out:
- Plan ahead – tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be home
- Know your limits, drink responsibly. Remember, nothing will turn you into a potential victim quicker or more effectively than alcohol. Be aware how you come across when you’ve been drinking. Ask your mates. Sometimes people can inadvertently attract trouble by the way they behave when they are drunk.
- If possible arrange for at least one of your group to stay sober, in order to keep an eye on the others and see that they don’t do anything to put themselves in danger
- Watch your drinks and food, and never leave your drink unattended. If it’s been left or tastes suspicious, don’t drink it! If a stranger offers you a drink decline or accompany them to the bar - watch that nothing is added to your drink. Never give somebody the opportunity to spike your drink.
- If you feel particularly strange after having 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
- 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 them better.
- Trust your instinct - if you feel uneasy about someone, there may be a reason. If you feel threatened by someone move away, cross the road, head towards somewhere where there are other people.
- If you are out in the evening or early morning try to stay with friends or near a group of people. Avoid taking short cuts and consider carrying a personal attack alarm.
- When walking alone vary your route, stick to well lit roads and pavements and walk facing traffic so that a car cannot pull up behind you unnoticed. Carry your bag close to you and keep your keys in a separate pocket. Walk down the middle of the pavement if the street is deserted.
- Keep your mobile phone charged, carry a phone card or some spare change to make a call
- If you're going out for the night and need a ride home, book a trusted taxi in advance or call a licensed cab company and arrange to be picked up right outside
- Keep the taxi number in your phone in case you need to speak to them again after booking
- Never accept lifts from strangers or unregistered taxis
Don't drink and drive
There are strict alcohol limits in breath, blood and urine for UK drivers. But it's not possible to say exactly how much alcohol you can drink while staying below the limit, because the way alcohol affects you depends on:
- Your weight, age, sex and metabolism
- The type and amount of alcohol you're drinking
- What you've eaten recently
- Your stress levels at the time
If you're driving, it's better to have none for the road.
There are strict penalties if you are convicted of drink driving, including:
- A minimum 12 month driving ban
- A criminal record
- A fine of up to £5,000
- An endorsement on your licence for 11 years
However, the personal consequences of being caught drink driving can impact on your life in other ways, including:
- Increased car insurance costs
- Losing your job
- The shame of having a criminal record
- Losing your independence
- Trouble getting into countries such as the USA
It is estimated that a drink driving conviction can cost from £20,000 to £50,000 as a result of fines, solicitors' fees, increased car insurance costs and impacts on employment.
The following day
Be aware that you could still be over the limit the day after drinking. Sleep, coffee and cold showers don't help you to sober up – time is the only way to get alcohol out of your system.
There is no excuse for drink driving: alcohol affects everybody's driving for the worse. It creates a feeling of overconfidence, makes judging speed and distance more difficult, and slows your reactions so that it takes longer to stop. 'Only going down the road' is not an excuse – a large proportion of all drink drive crashes occur within three miles of the start of the journey.
Crowds, noise, aching feet and demanding children can all make shopping stressful. But whatever’s going on around you, be sure to stay alert – opportunist thieves are always on the prowl.
15 Top Tips for Keeping Things Safe
- Never leave your bag unattended in shopping trolleys or baskets, pushchairs or mobility scooters.
- While walking about, keep your bag close to your body and closed at all times. Choose one with zip fastenings and keep your valuable items well hidden inside, out of easy reach of pickpockets.
- Bells can be attached to your purse that will jingle to alert you if someone takes it out of your bag. You can buy them online quite cheaply, just search for ‘purse bells’.
- Keep the amount of valuables in your bag to a minimum – avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- In public toilets, don’t put your bag on the floor – it could be snatched from under the door. If there is a hook on the back of the door, use that.
- In cafes and restaurants, never hang your bag on the back of the chair where you can't see it. Keep it on your lap, between your feet or secure the strap around a chair leg.
- On public transport, always keep your bag where you can see it. Don't put it under the seat.
- Carry a rucksack on your front, not your back, otherwise someone walking behind you could be taking things out of it without you knowing.
- Never leave phones, purses or wallets on the table in a café or pub – small items are easily swiped when your attention is diverted, even for just a second. Check out our advice on how to protect your phone in case it does get stolen.
- If you’re not making a call, keep your phone hidden – don’t advertise the fact that you’re carrying an expensive piece of equipment.
- Don’t carry your wallet in your back trouser pocket – an experienced pickpocket can remove it without you feeling a thing. If your pockets have zips or buttons, keep them fastened once your wallet is inside.
- Use a chain or lanyard to secure your purse to your bag and prevent someone from dipping in and removing it.
- Never keep your PIN numbers written down and stored in the same place as your cards – just in case the worst happens.
- Be mindful of distractions – thieves often work in pairs, one diverting your attention by asking you something, bumping into you or ‘accidentally’ dropping something, while the other steals from your bag or pocket.
- If you want to leave shopping in your car, put the bags in the boot – don’t leave them where they can be seen.
Don’t give thieves the chance to bag your belongings!