Women’s Safety and Security
As a result of the devastating news surrounding the murder of Sarah Everard, there is currently a national conversation regarding women’s safety. As a female led security consultancy, we would like to offer some of the top safety tips which we often recommend to our female clients.
In our opinion, the first rule of self-defence is to develop a strong sense of environmental situational awareness. Being able to understand and identify the risks of a situation and to react appropriately, is the best way to avoid becoming a victim or target of both environmental and criminal situations.
Raise Your Situational Awareness
We often walk around oblivious to our surroundings, this could be through a false sense of security because we know where we are, or due to distractions such as mobile phones.
It is vital to remain alert in public, know who is around and behind you, look ahead and premeditate where you would go if you were in danger. Don’t wear earphones, they will reduce your chance of noticing an approaching person or vehicle.
Manage Your Profile
By this, we mean realise how to blend in and not be identified as a potential target for theft or worse. Be mindful of how you show and carry expensive jewellery, handbags, watches and electronics. A woman should have the freedom to dress how she chooses; however, it is also important to realise that unfortunately there are people whose perception of you will be directly linked to the way that you are dressed which will impact their treatment of you. This is especially relevant when travelling. (more information can be found in our online lone female travellers course)
Look Strong and Confident
A potential harasser can be deterred by a projection of strength. Most criminals have a strong instinct for self-preservation, which has a direct impact on their selection or subsequent disregard of an intended target or victim. Project strength by walking with purpose, keeping your head up and shoulders back, standing straight and making eye contact.
When you go out, get into the habit of telling somebody where you are going, how you are getting there and when to expect you. This will become a routine and safe practice to follow.
A great tool available to WhatsApp users is the use of the live location function. This is located within the addition menu (marked with a blue cross) you can select “live location” for a period of time, up to 8 hours which is very useful if you can arrange for a friend to monitor your journey or evening run.
Be wary of disclosing your address or full name to strangers. When using social media, don’t post exactly where you are or where you are going, post after you have left and don’t post details of places that you visit regularly. Set your settings to approve posts that other people tag you in. Think, if you would not share details of your address, job, partner, children, parents, phone number or email with someone in a supermarket queue don’t do it online.
Have a Plan
If you are going out late, plan your travel home and stick to it. Stay with any friends that you have planned an evening with and check that each other get home safety. Consider taking trainers or flat shoes if your journey home involves walking or public transport. Don’t use unlicensed mini cabs and don’t be afraid to photograph the number plate of a taxi that you are travelling in before you board. If travelling by bus, stay downstairs in sight of the driver. In train carriages try and find a carriage with a conductor. Familiarise yourself with your mobile phones shortcut to 999, it is much harder to perform normal functions when you are under pressure.
If you feel threatened react to your instincts, cross the road, go somewhere more public or call for help. Don’t be scared to draw attention to yourself. A discussion between our staff has identified multiple occasions where females have avoided theft or physical harm by shouting and making a noise when confronted by a potential attacker. Be aware of what is known as the bystander effect; it has been proven that when many people can help, often no-one does. This is because everyone expects someone else to intervene. If you are attacked in a public place and people are watching; make eye contact and direct your plea for assistance “you, help me”
Whilst it is common knowledge that carrying a weapon can have an adverse effect as apart from being illegal it can be used against you. Sadly, there are situations where self-defence might be the last available option. In the UK, carrying mace or pepper spray is against the law. However, if you are physically threatened you may take reasonable and proportionate measures to defend yourself. If you have an alternative option, such as a defence dye spray, use it. You can use any item that you are legitimately carrying for another purpose as a weapon if it is proportionate, i.e. the miniature bottle of hairspray or mosquito repellent that might be in your bag. For these to be effective you have to have them ready to access, they are no good if you can’t locate them. Similarly attack alarms, these need to be easily accessible such as attached to the outside of your bag where you can easily pull a string or activate a button if needed.
If you would like more advice and exercises which teach you how to raise your awareness levels, identify if you are under surveillance, plan your travel safely and be more considerate of your approach to online security; visit our online training platform. Our current courses include: