The Safety Basics
Pay attention to your surroundings
You are of legal drinking age in the UK – but you still need to drink with moderation. Virtually every incident of assault within our program has been associated with substantial alcohol consumption.
Drugs used to facilitate sexual assault (the so-called ‘date rape’ drugs) are a real risk in the UK and Europe. To protect yourself, do not leave drinks unattended and be wary of accepting drinks from people you do not know well. To be even more careful, make sure you open and pour your own drink, and don’t share drinks with others.
If you’re making a mobile phone call you are less aware of your surroundings; this leaves you vulnerable to thieves and it is incredibly easy to snatch a phone from out of someone’s hands.
Trust your instincts
If something or someone makes you uncomfortable, stay calm and move away. If you have a bad feeling about a person or situation, voice it to your friends, and go with it. Always listen to your gut instincts.
Theft and pick-pocketing is a risk in any major city. Be as difficult a target as possible by keeping bags close and closed. Keep your bag or camera where you can see them by wearing them in front of you, not over your shoulder. This is especially important if you are in a crowded area such as on a bus or an underground train. When in restaurants, bars, theatres or cinemas never leave your bag on the floor or over the back of your chair. Keep it where you can see it.
Look after yourself and your friends
Avoid risky behavior that might lead to your being a victim of a crime, such as being out late at night alone, traveling alone, or drinking excessively. If you go out with a friend, make sure they are all right before leaving without them.
At night always plan your journey home before setting out and do not walk home alone. If you have to walk home in a group, stick to well lit areas. Look confident. Walk with your head up, as if you know where you are going.
Be especially aware that you are in an unfamiliar environment
Take extra care when crossing the road. Always remember to look both ways as traffic may be coming from a different direction than you are expecting.
Do not take unlicensed minicabs. Ever. Why pay to get into a stranger’s car? Be especially careful outside clubs, where they tout for business and can look legitimate. If you need a black cab late at night, use the text service provided by TfL. Simply text HOME to 60835 to get the numbers of black cab ranks in the area you are texting from sent directly to your phone.
Be especially careful when using ATMs; avoid ones that charge up front for the transaction itself (banks and building society ones don’t) and be careful of people nearby. Whenever possible, use ATMs that are located inside buildings or outside banks.
Be conscious of the fact that you are obviously American
Stay informed so you can make informed decisions. Watch and read the European, British and London news.
You stand out due to your clothing and speech (volume and accent) and can attract attention from pickpockets and others who may assume you will be an easier target.
Avoid confrontation – it’s better and safer to walk away if you are being provoked or hassled, whatever the reason.