Staying safe when going out this Christmas 

                    Dec 21 blog 1

As I write this blog it’s 37 days until Christmas Day.  Where has 2021 gone???

Whilst the number of Covid cases is high across the country we are told by the Government that they will not be imposing lockdowns so we will plan for a normal Christmas.

A normal Christmas for most will involve dinners, parties and drinks.  Travelling late at night or in the early hours of the morning, going to restaurants, clubs and bars you haven’t been to before and getting the last train or tube home.

It’s been a pretty stressful couple of years with the pandemic and all that came with it.  We are thankful that we can see friends and families this year for Christmas.  We may well be tempted to let our hair down and ‘go for it!’.  I promise you I am not a party pooper but there have been cases in the news of people coming to harm on nights out and some have been high profile: Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, Libby Squire, Lorraine Cox.  While these are 4 names of women, let us not forget about the 195 known men who were drugged and then sexually assaulted by Reynhard Sinaga while on a night out.  Also we can’t forget about the incidents that take place that never get reported.

At this point in my blog I would usually quote statistics and/or organisations but this time I am only going to quote from a survey by the Office of National Statistics undertaken this year:

Perceptions of personal safety and experiences of harassment, Great Britain: 2 to 27 June 2021

  • People felt less safe when walking alone after dark than during the day in a quiet street close to home, a busy public space, and a park or open space.
  • One in two women and one in seven men felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a quiet street near their home.
  • One in two women and one in five men felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a busy public place.
  • Four out of five women and two out of five men felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a park or other open space.
  • Disabled people felt less safe walking alone in all settings than non-disabled people.
  • Adults who experienced at least one form of harassment in the previous 12 months were more likely to feel unsafe when walking alone compared with those who had not.
  • Two out of three women aged 16 to 34 years experienced one form of harassment in the previous 12 months, with 44% of women aged 16 to 34 years having experienced catcalls, whistles, unwanted sexual comments or jokes, and 29% having felt like they were being followed.
  • Some 6 out of 10 people who reported feeling unsafe during the day, and 4 out of 10 who reported feeling unsafe after dark, had altered their behaviour, as a result, in the previous month.

Remembering these tips and pointers can help to keep you, your family and your friends safe:

  • Stay with your group or the people/person you came with; don’t wander off alone.
  • Look after each other’s drinks to ensure no opportunity arises for spiking.
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers that you did not see prepared by the bar staff.
  • If one of your group has had too much to drink please remember to look out for them and not allow them to wander off on their own.
  • Plan ahead, make sure you know when your last train leaves.
  • If you can phone for a taxi/Uber/minicab to take you home.
  • If you are travelling home alone let someone know when you’re leaving and how you are getting home.
  • If you find yourself alone on a train sit as close to the driver’s cab as you can, the same for a night bus – sit downstairs and close to the driver.
  • When walking at night keep to the main roads that will be well lit and avoid shortcuts through parks, alleys and isolated footpaths.

Above all else, look after yourself and have a safe and happy Christmas.

            Dec 21 blog 2

Pauline Jackson
District Safeguarding Officer for Beds, Essex & Herts