Keeping yourself safe

The chances of you or a member of your family becoming a victim of violent crime are low. Violent crimes by strangers in public places are still rare and account for a very small part of recorded crime. You can make yourself even less likely to be the victim of a violent crime – for example, robbery (mugging) or assault – by taking a few sensible precautions. Many are common sense, and may be things that you already do. Making yourself safer doesn't mean changing your entire lifestyle, personality or wardrobe, and it doesn't mean never going out at all.

Men and women can experience crime differently and it is important to remember this so you can protect yourself as well as possible. You should think about how you would act in different situations before you are in them. Think about whether you would stay and defend yourself (using reasonable force), risking further injury, or whether you would give an attacker what they want, to avoid injury.

There is nothing wrong with doing either, but you should think about the options – there will be no time to do so if you are attacked.

Some general points

  • You will be safest in bright, well-lit and busy areas.
  • Try to look and act confident – look like you know where you are going and walk tall.
  • You might like to spread your valuables around your body. For example, keep your phone in your bag, your house keys in your trouser pocket and your money in your jacket.
  • If someone tries to take something from you, it may be better to let them take it rather than to get into a confrontation and risk injury.
  • You can use reasonable force in self-defence.
  • You are allowed to protect yourself with something you are carrying anyway (for example, keys or a can of deodorant), but you may not carry a weapon.
  • If you decide to defend yourself, be aware that your attacker might be stronger than you, or may take what you are using in self-defence and use it against you.
  • It is often better just to shout loudly and run away. Shout 'fire' rather than 'help' – it can get more results.
  • If you use a wheelchair, keep your things beside you rather than at the back of the chair.
  • Try not to be conspicuous about the valuables you are carrying. Talking on your mobile phone, carrying a laptop, or showing your friend your new gold ring all show thieves that you are worth robbing.
  • When out walking or jogging, you should not listen to a personal stereo through headphones, so you can stay more alert to your surroundings.


  • Keep your car in good condition and try not to run out of petrol.
  • Keep doors locked when driving and keep bags, phones and other valuables out of sight, preferably in the boot.
  • Try to park in well-lit or busy areas.
  • If you park during the day, think about what the area will feel like after dark.
  • Some car parks have 'Secured car park' accreditation.
  • Find out which ones do locally and try to use them – look out for the 'Secured car park' sign.
  • If you break down on the motorway, follow the arrows to the nearest phone.
  • Do not cross the carriageway.
  • Wait outside your car (as far away as possible from the carriageway) unless you feel threatened, in which case you should sit in the passenger seat.
  • Do not give lifts to or accept lifts with people you do not know, or do not know well.
  • Do not drive if you have been drinking or taking drugs, and do not accept a lift from someone who has.
  • You may feel more comfortable carrying a mobile phone with you. Try to keep it out of sight, and do not use it while driving.

Advice for Students

• Be aware: local thieves actively target students, so lock doors and windows when leaving the property

• Be aware: local thieves actively target students in crowded places, so keep bags securely fastened and out of view

• Mark your belongings with a UV pen or other marking system

• Register your valuables on one of the commercially available asset registers (e.g.

• Protect your mobile phone by:

  • Being careful when using it outside train and bus stations as these are popular venues for snatch theft, often by motor cycle
  • Not advertising it to thieves by keeping it hidden from view (NOT in your back pocket), and keeping public conversations short
  • Keeping a note of your personal IMEI number (type *#06# into your phone) so that if your phone is stolen, you can block it from being used
  • Using a security code or PIN
  • Downloading a phone tracking application

• Register it on

• Never leave your bag, mobile phone, tablet or laptop unattended in public view, even for a few moments e.g. while you pop to the toilet

• Avoid talking on your mobile phone or listening to music on headphones whilst walking home at night. Try not to walk home alone. Be aware of what’s going on around you and keep to well-lit, busy areas

• Be extra careful when using cash machines - make sure no one is loitering too close, do not let anyone distract you as you remove your card and cash from the machine and do not count your money in the middle of the street.

• Do not keep all your valuables in one place. Instead place items such as wallets and mobile phones in inside pockets and only take out what is necessary on a night out

• Be alcohol aware and drink responsibly

Mobile Phones

If your phone is stolen, report your number to your network and the police – the handset can now be barred on all networks and will be useless to thieves.

Register your phone with your network operator. Record your registration number (IMEI) and your phone number. Keep these in a safe place separate from your phone. You can get your IMEI number (15-digit serial number) by keying *#06# into most phones or by looking behind your phone battery.

Report the number of your stolen phone to your network operator and the police as quickly as you can. It can now be cancelled immediately like a stolen credit card. Stay alert – your phone is a valuable item. When you are out, be aware of your surroundings and don't use your phone in crowded areas or where you might feel unsafe.

Watch the "60 Second Security" videos on simple security advice.