Safer Vale Partnership festive season safety

CHRISTMAS is a time to relax and have fun but it can also be very busy and stressful. You may be out and about more than usual – for that essential Christmas shopping and to festive parties and other social events – and the last thing you need is to become a victim of crime.

To help avoid this, consider some of the Safer Vale Partnership advice:

Christmas shopping

• Don’t get loaded down with too many bags. Try to keep one hand free.

• Try and avoid taking young children into busy shopping areas. If it is unavoidable make sure they know what to do if they lose you, eg tell the nearest counter assistant that they are lost and never leave a shop without you.

• Agree a meeting point with older children in case you get separated.

• Be careful where you park your car, especially if you will be returning to it after dark.

• If parking in a multi-storey car park, choose a well-lit space as close to the exit as possible and away from pillars. Reverse into position.

• Keep car doors locked whilst driving in built up areas, especially if you’ve got bags of presents in the car.

• Don’t leave lots of presents on show in a parked car as this could tempt thieves.

• Keep alert and aware of your surroundings, especially in busy shops and crowded streets where thieves and pickpockets may well be operating.

• Keep a close watch on your valuables and try not to keep them all in one place.

Christmas Parties

• Most of us like a drink or two but remember that alcohol will affect your judgment – don’t let it endanger your personal safety.

• Remember, the most common date rape drug is alcohol, with victims being given drinks with a far higher alcohol content than they think.

• Watch your drinks and food to ensure that nothing is added to them.

• Never leave your drink unattended, even if you are going onto a dance floor or to the toilet.

• If your drink has been left unattended, do not drink any more of it.

• If something tastes or looks odd, do not eat/drink any more of it. Be aware that some date rape drugs are colourless and tasteless.

• If someone you do not know or trust offers to buy you a drink, either decline or accompany them to the bar and watch that nothing is added to your drink.

• Know your own limit.

• 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 the person better. If you do find yourself alone with someone you don’t know well, make sure that someone knows where you are and who you’re with.

• Pay attention to your instincts. If you feel un-easy about someone, there may be a reason.

• When it’s time to go home, carry your keys, mobile phone and some money in your pocket, so you can give up your handbag or wallet and escape quickly if necessary on the way home.

Transport

• The party’s over and you need to get home. You are likely to be tired and slightly the worse for wear so you need to be careful.

• The ideal plan is to book your taxi in advance or call a licensed taxi company from the party and arrange for them to pick you up right outside the venue.

• Never accept a lift from a taxi touting for trade. They are illegal and can be very dangerous.

• If necessary walk to the nearest taxi office – Keep to well-lit streets and walk against traffic and in sight of other people whenever possible.

• Always sit in the back of a taxi and if you get chatting to the driver do not give away personal details. If you feel uneasy with the driver, ask him to stop at a busy familiar place and get out.

• If using public transport, have your ticket, pass or change ready in your hand so that your wallet or purse is out of sight.

• Always wait for the bus or train in a well-lit place near other people if possible and try and arrange for someone to meet you at the bus stop or station.

• Take note of where the emergency alarms are and try to sit near them.

• If a bus is empty or it is after dark, stay on the lower deck as near as possible to the driver.

• On trains, avoid empty compartments or compartments that have no access to corridors or other parts of the train. If you feel threatened on any public transport press the alarm and/or make as much noise as possible to attract attention of your fellow passengers or the driver or guard.

Safer Vale is the community safety partnership for the Vale of Glamorgan area. The partners are: South Wales Police; Vale of Glamorgan Council; South Wales Fire and Rescue Service; Cardiff and Vale University Health Board; Welsh Assembly Government; Home Office; South Wales Probation Service; VCVS.

• Safer Vale’s mission is to reduce the fear of crime by implementing a range of local and regional crime and disorder reduction projects. More details can be found at www.safervale.co.uk

• The public can contact Safer Vale by calling the helpline on 01446 450200, or by writing to Safer Vale, Barry Fire Station, Port Road West, Barry, CF63 3AZ.

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