Staying Safe 1. Prevention

Herow Gwarshopper

– Thats the best I can do on ancient oriental accent.

I think we all agree it is always better to prevent than cure and I could spend hours on prevention but the point of this first lesson is to get you to think.  Now then I know nothing about you, your life and the demands upon you so I have kept this first lesson very general.  Take the points and think how it applies to you, your life and how you do things.  You may get to the end and say “Well stone me that was bloody pointless” or you may think “Yeah I can see where he’s coming from”.  Perhaps you could let me know either way.

Lets get one thing clear from the very outset and that is despite what the Daily Mail and other hemoroid papers say, for the majority of people the chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in the UK are still very low.  So for that reason most people have no reason to be scared.

Most criminals are opportunist and to be honest very few a really out to hurt you.

This leads me to the next very import intorductory point

Thanks to the great British Media, the fear of crime or being a victim of crime is a bigger problem and worse than the real problem.  Let me ask you do you actually know anyone who had been the vistim of a violent crime?  I dont mean somebody who got burgeled but somebody who was attacked and robbed with force or assualted for no reason.  I suspect not many of you do.  Ask the question of your friends and familly and I bet you will get a similar response.  Always bear in mind that the fear of srime is worse than reality.  Do not go round being scared shitless or I will guarantee you will become a victim.  You cannot live you life being frightened all the time, it is not healthy.


How you conduct yourself in day to day life tells people a lot about you.  There is the old thing of the SDergeant major shouting “Eyes front! Heads up, shoulders back, tits out my lovely boys”  Don’t slouch about, walk and conduct yourself with confidence and bleive in yourself and mean business.  Let me tell you something, if you don’t believe in yourself why the hell should anyone else.  I don’t mean strut your funky stuff like dem boys in de hood man, but do not be timid or a victim waiting to happen. If you look and sound confident you are less likely to be a victim.  I do not mean aggressive I mean confident and determined.   If you have a problem with something or somebody tell them firmly but directly you have a problem and ask how it can be resolved.  Id doesn’t matter who or what it is,  be it the bank or the gas board, grasp the nettle, don’t be afraid to complain, do not be timid.

This may not seem related to defence,  butbelieve me it is all about you and the signals you give off.  Most people who are victims of violent crime are the victim of an opportunist attack.  If you send out the right signals that you are not to be messed with then you will be left alone.  I will be honest and say it doesn’t work all the time I grant you, but 99.9% of the time, if you are confident and willing to deal with things head on in a polite but firm manner you will reduce your stress levels and gain confidence.


Get fitter.  I dont mean pump iron and turn yourslf into Rambo, go for a few brisk walks during the week (but try not to get mugged) a few squats, leg lifts  press ups just so that you feel the msucles tense and firm.  Slowly but surely.


Your prevention starts before you leave home or the office and relates to time management.

You need to be prepared before you every leave home.  What I am about to say seems obvious but it builds in to a routine.  Think about where you are going, the route you need to take, where are you going to park, what you need to do whn you get there and how much time you need to do ALL of it.  Most people underestimate the time to do most things so they get stressed and rush.  If you do this you will not be able to adhere to the most important golden rule of staying safe and avoiding problems and then the second rule just will not fall into place and you are making your job harder than it needs to be.

The first real golden rule for staying safe is to pay attention to your surroundings and environment. The second golden rule is If you see something you don’t like the look of, take immediate appropriate action action.  However if you are wandering around in cloud cuckoo land or rushing like a mad thing, you just wont see the signs of possible dangers.

The biggest distraction, apart from being rushed due to bad time management, and we are all guilty of that,  is the mobile telephone.  Now then us blokes cannot do two things at once but you ladies are forever walking and talking or texting on your mobiles.    If you have to use it in the street find a suitable spot, stop do the biz and then put the phone away.  For a start you are not putting a nickable object on display and secondly  If you are not paying attention to what’s going on around you are putting yourself in danger.  When I say danger I do not mean just from attack but from all sorts of accidents and mishaps.  Most woman who are robbed in broad day light were on talking on their phones or texting at the time.  Apparently the statistics for women and young girls being knocked over  by vehicles whilst texting is also very high.

What is so important that it cannot wait and if something is that important you should give it your full attention.


If you are out shopping don’t overload yourself.  Always try to keep one hand free.  I mention this with Christmas coming up, because If you are weighed down with shopping bags and boxes it is a sure fire indicator that you are likely to be carrying non traceable goods, cash, cards etc BUT it also tells me that you are in a rush, stressed and under pressure.

You have VICTIM COME AND GET ME in neon lights over your head.

The chances are that as a result you will be flustered  and as a result you are already under stress and your heart beat will already be up and it will just go through the roof the instant anything happens.  You will react badly and be unable to cope if anything does happens.  When I say anything happens again I dont just mean being attacked.   if  you get pushed or trip the natural reaction is to put your arms out to break your fall.  With all the stuff you are carrying you either won’t be able to do this and will face butt the pavement or all your stuff is going to go splat on to the deck. You will panic and will end up hurting yourself and being more shocked than needs be. Shock kills more people than anything else.  Try to conduct yourself in such a way as to minimise this.  Besides which its not good for you getting all worked up and you want to enjoy Christmas.

Plan Ahead, Plan Ahead, Plan Ahead.  OK now I accept that there are circumstances where it is not always possible,  but to be honest they are few and far between.  If you plan ahead you are prepared and this helps you stay aware of your environment and the situation around you.

Going somewhere for a first time, Do you know where you are going?  Not sure what the area is like?  If nothing else look at a map and get a reasonable idea of your route and destination.  By this I do not mean jump in the car and leave it to the GPS, I mean look at a map, Google it, have a look on Google Earth or Mappy but for goodness sake have a look.

If you buy a book or watch a film I bet you read the blurb on the back to see what its about, but so many people just head off blindly without a thought of where they are really going.  OK in view of my opening paragraphs this might seem a bit over the top, but if nothing else at least you shouldn’t get lost.  For me and my team this is standard procedure.  Granted we tend to find ourselves in “odd” situations with “odd” people, but there is so much information available to everyone before you leave home that it is daft not to have a little look-see before you set off.  How long will it take you and what have you got to loose?

If you are going on a meeting or trip, will you be going somewhere that may be a problem spot, if so can you go another way or get someone to go with you.  If in doubt dress accordingly, don’t carry anything other than the bare minimum, don’t wear expensive jewellery just blend in, there are times to stick out and times to be a sheep.

Last but not least I have slagged off the mobile phone but they are good tools if you use them properly.   If you really feel the need you can subsribe to one of the various mobile tracking companies that will give you the location of a mobile down to about 10m in some cases.  We use this a lot, but we are not quite run of the mill folks.     When I was a lad my mum used to be very strict on keeping  in touch if I was going to be late or whatever.  In our business its known as “ringing in” and is something we as a unit do all the time.  If somebody is out on a job and misses a scheduled ring in we try to contact him immediately.  If there is response we go to the locate system and mobilise a back up team to go seek and search.  It doesn’t happen very often fortunately.  Usually there has been an over run on a meet, but we would rather be safe than sorry.  I would always suggest you carry a phone card and get one for your kids because they are a good back up shpould they run out of credit or the mobile wont work for some reason – provide of course you can fins a bloody phone that works.

As I said at the start I could go on and on about how to avoid problems, but what this little course is about is dealing with them when they crop up.

Do not be scared.
Be confident and assertive but not aggressive.
Be aware of your environment.
Be prepared and in control and let anyone who comes into contact with you know you are reasonable,  but that you mean business. 

Fortunately very few people are actually carjacked in the UK but in the last few weeks there have been more and more instances of cars being stolen from the owners whilst the owners have been getting in to them.  The other things is that as more people choose to go to more bizarre and apparently exotic locations such as West Africa and even the Caribbean the chances of being targeted increase.

What do you do if somebody steals your car whilst you are about to get into it.  Well there are two things you can do.  The first is stand there to one side and think “Bollocks I had better ring the police and my insurance company” Or Number two you can try and stop the the thief.  Actually you are really trying to stop a couple of tons of metal and the odds of  you succeeding are very remote.  My advice is try to prevent this happening in the first place and if you dont, and some git does nick your car, I would go for the Oh bollocks option.  It is just a car.  Probably very nice and this incident will signal a period of grief and aggravation, as those robbing bastard insurance companies try to screw you, but at least you aren’t sucking steak through a straw or pushing up daisies and it can be replaced.  It is only a thing.

It is amazing how many people have their cars stolen when they are almost in them.  Most of the time the cars get nicked because people are sloppy and lazy.

The vast majority of cars these days have remote central locking very handy for owners and a godsend for thieves..

Ideally do not unlock all of the car doors at the same time – If your car has a traditional keyhole then use your key to unlock the door you want to open.

If you have no choice but to open the car remotely, then do it when you are right by your car not 50 yards away.  When I mean right by the car, I mean right by the car hand on handle.  If you have to unlock all the doors with the remote do so when you are right by the car, then open the door you want and immediately relock the rest of the car and only unlock it when you are ready to get in. The drill is press unlock – open door- get in- lock.  Same if you need to put stuff into the boot, unlock – open boot -relock car.  It sounds convoluted but if you practice you can get really quick.  The quicker you are the more you reduce the opportunity for somebody to attack you and either injure you or steal your car.  For women on their own in unknown and possibly hostile environments this is very important.  It also applies when travelling abroad in the less hospitable neighbourhoods.

In winter when it comes to defrosting your car  and depending on where you are do not leave it running.  De ice it first and then get in and turn it on.  Imagine its winter and you have got your engine running are getting it all nice and toasty warm inside. You’re out there scraping Jack Frost off the windscreen and suddenly your pride and joy is being driven off without you.  It happens a lot and as I write last week alone two people were killed and another seriously injured trying to save their cars after they were taken in just these circumstances.

I will deal with drills for car drills when driving later if there is the demand.

One Response to “Staying Safe 1. Prevention”

  1. havingmycake says:

    The best self defence course I ever went on focussed almost exclusively on the above – not being in the situation in the first place. It was an all-woman course and we all thought we were pretty sensible but just having stuff pointed out that we’d never thought of – like locking the doors as soon as you get into the car, not overloading ourselves with shopping and then trying to get into our cars in a dark car park, not looking like a victim. I know it sounds thick but, as women, we often just dont think outside of the box because we are so fixated with getting as much done in as little time as possible. Thank you for these great reminders.

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