Personal Safety & Street Survival Tips:
Please click on the links below to read more about each topic. If you would like more information about personal safety, please contact us to find out about courses in your area.
- Tracing People & People finder websites
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA)
- Message to All Women Car Drivers
- Weapon awareness
- Personal Safety alarms
- Newsletter, Met Police in Oct 2004 – Through A Rapist’s Eyes
- Keep on top of the latest personal safety news
Tracing People & People finder websites
How concerned are you about being traced through the internet? Although some of the websites listed below can be very useful if you are searching for your long lost relatives, they can also be used for less savoury purposes – to find you.
If you want to know how much information there is about you and your family on the internet, enter your name and the town or area where you live into a search engine and see what comes up. If you have a fairly common name such as Smith, this may take some time. However, if your name is more unusual then you may find your address on the first search.
The most commonly used and best known site is 192.com. It is a requirement of the Data Protection Act 1998 that sites such as 192.com must allow individuals to remove their details – it is quite easy to do this. You can download the C01 form from by clicking here 192.com. You will be asked to complete the form and fax it back. However, it is cheaper to post the form as 192.com charges £1.50 per minute to receive a fax.
Other commonly used sites are Zoominfo.com, B4Usearch.com and freepeoplefinder.com – but there are many others. A word of warning. Some sites ask you to complete forms with exhaustive details about yourself. Never provide information that the site doesn’t already have as this may be a scam to get you to supply your personal details which will then be sold on to other organisations.
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA)
If you own a car then the DVLA will have your ownership details on their database. However, the DVLA will supply vehicle ownership details, for a small fee, to anyone who requests them, as long as there is a ‘reasonable justification’ for wanting the information. ‘Reasonable justification’ could be claiming to have been involved in a hit and run for instance, so it is easy to see how this system could be abused. For this reason, consider whether your vehicle would be better registered to a work address than to your home.
Important Safety Messages to All Women Car Drivers
Travel Safety & Car Jacking
Fact: We are now much safer in our homes. Modern alarms and double-glazing make breaking into your home far more difficult for would-be burglars. The same is true of cars – modern vehicles are harder to steal. So what do criminals now need to get into your house or car? Answer: your keys, which is one reason why street crime has recently increased. To avoid falling victim, we need to be more aware of our surroundings when we are out and about.
If you want to improve your awareness skills, go to our blog which is kept updated with the latest research on awareness and instinct, together with information on the latest tricks used by criminals to take you off guard.
The following message is an example of one person’s bad experience that they wanted to share with others.
“If you’re anything like me, your usual driving practice is to get straight into the car, lock it and start the engine ready to drive off. You then use your rear view mirror to check the coast is clear before you reverse out of your parking space. It’s at this moment that you spot the piece of paper under the windscreen wiper – put there by the car thief.
WHATEVER YOU DO – DON’T GET OUT OF YOUR CAR TO CHECK WHAT IT IS!
Someone just behind the next car or hidden nearby is waiting to jump in and steal your car – and where are your mobile phone and purse? In your handbag on the passenger seat, so they’ve been stolen too. Just ignore the piece of paper – drive away and when you’re in a safe location, stop and get out to see what it is.”
Lone female returning to a vehicle
Do you advertise the fact that you are a woman driver? Or worse still that you are a single woman driver? Do you advertise to a would-be assailant what time you will be collecting your car? – No? Well how many of us leave our driving shoes in the passenger foot well when we go for a night out in town? Or put a parking ticket in the windscreen showing what time we have to be back by, or have the parcel shelf packed full of cuddly toys?
It’s a fact that we feel comfortable and cocooned in our cars and so we personalise them. Think about the evidence you leave in your car which might make you vulnerable to being identified. Then think about what you might leave in your car which would throw an attacker off the scent such as a motorbike magazine, a construction worker’s hat on the parcel shelf – or just leaving your car devoid of anything.
Look out for a forthcoming blog article on car Jacking and worst case scenarios on our blog. If you have had a bad experience or a lucky escape and would like to share your experience with others, then please email us at email@example.com.
A pen, a pencil, a toothbrush, a broken hairbrush, a credit card – these are just some of the items that have been used to inflict injuries or commit murder. Don’t underestimate the potentially lethal effect of improvised weapons, even if the danger is not immediately obvious. If someone were to approach you holding a credit card, you would probably not be worried. But a credit card filed to a razor sharp edge, or two credit cards stuck together with a razor blade protruding from one corner, could be used as a deadly weapon. A scalding hot drink could result in devastating injuries, despite appearing to be ‘harmless’. It’s a fact that far more people are assaulted with ‘weapons of opportunity’ than with traditionally-feared items such as knives or guns.
Personal attack alarms
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust recently ran an article about personal attack alarms and their effectiveness as a personal safety aid. The article explained that personal alarms don’t actually do what they are designed to do, i.e. they don’t put a potential assailant off or make him run away, and they don’t tend to summon help as the sound of an alarm going off is such a commonplace occurrence.
However, this does not mean you shouldn’t carry an alarm and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust still conclude that they can be a useful deterrent. We agree and offer the following advice about the best way to use a rape alarm, should you ever need to:
- Try to take an attacker by surprise. Think about the effect you could have by throwing the alarm between your attacker’s legs or holding it to his ear.
- Some aerosol alarms contain evil-smelling skunk oil. If an assailant’s intention is rape, then this may also dampen his ardour. And much like smart water, the oil can be detected some time after the event.
- Setting off the alarm is likely to divert the assailant’s attention away from the attack for a second or two. Take the opportunity to escape or take the initiative and make a pre-emptive strike.
Personal attack alarms for men?
There is no reason why an alarm can’t be a useful protection device for a man as well as a woman. However, most men are reluctant to carry a personal attack alarm – ego no doubt plays a part in this. A second reason is probably the fact that they are often marketed as ‘rape alarms’, so men don’t see them as relevant. But don’t discount alarms as a potentially valuable aid to men’s personal safety.
Other alarms that you can use
Even if you are not carrying a personal safety alarm, there are other ways of summoning help. The sound of breaking glass will often draw attention – and glass is such a commonly found substance that this can be an effective way of drawing attention to yourself.
And wherever you go today you are surrounded by alarms. Just about every public building you enter has alarms fitted that we may not notice – but neither do the bad guys. How about the fire alarm? If setting off this alarm was all that stood between you getting home to your family, would you break the glass?
It might stop your potential attacker seeing you as a victim and divert their attention to worrying about something else.
What else does sudden noise do?
There is a term well known in self-defence circles known as ‘Paralyse by analyse’.
This happens when the brain is presented with information which is out of context or unexpected. As the brain freezers for 5 or 6 seconds whilst attempting to analyse the new situation, you have the upper hand as you know what is happening.
The Danger Triangle
For any attack to take place three things need to be present this is called the Danger Triangle as identified below. In the majority of circumstances all these elements need to be present for an attack to take place.
By setting off a fire alarm you are dramatically changing your present environment.
Always be aware of you environment and be prepared to change this. We will cover this subject in more depth in our blog, where we will look at recent research into the personal safety and self-protection skills we all carry around with us namely: instinct and intuition. We will also look at awareness skills and the tools used by professional bodyguards to enhance awareness skills.
Any one worried about their own or their family’s or friends’ personal safety should read ‘The Gift of fear’ by Gavin De-Becker, the man Oprah Winfrey describes as the US”s leading expert on violent behaviour. This international best seller gives a fascinating insight into how our brain has developed to protect us from violence.
Newsletter, Metropolitan Police, Oct 2004 – ‘Through A Rapist’s Eyes’
In this newsletter, a group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed about what they look for in a potential victim. Here are some interesting facts derived from the interviews.
- The first thing men look for in a potential rape victim is her hairstyle. They are more likely to go after a woman with a ponytail or similar hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. Women with short hair are not often targets.
- The second thing men look for is the type of clothing the victim is wearing. They prefer to attack a woman whose clothing is easy to remove quickly. Often they will carry scissors in order to cut clothing away.
- A woman talking on a mobile phone, looking through her handbag or doing some other activity whilst walking also makes her a victim because she is off guard and can easily be overpowered while distracted.
- The time of day that men are most likely to attack is the early morning between 5.00am and 8.30am.
- A rapist will have planned his attack. Most rapists are looking to grab a woman quickly and move her to a second, more secluded, location where they are less likely to be caught.
- Only 2% of rapists said they carried a weapon because rape carried a 3-5 year sentence, but rape with a weapon carries a 15-20 year sentence.
- If you put up any kind of a fight they will get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realise that you will not be an easy victim. If going after you is too time consuming, they risk being caught.
- These men said they would not pick on women with umbrellas or other similar objects that can be used from a distance to fend off an attacker. Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to an attacker to use them as a weapon.
- There are things you can do that will put an attacker off selecting you. The one thing your attacker doesn’t want is to get caught. So if you find you are being followed, or you are in a lift or car park and you feel uneasy about the person you are with, look him straight in the face and ask them a question like ‘What time is it?’, or make some general small talk. Once you’ve seen their face you could identify them in a line up and you lose your appeal as a target.
- If someone is coming towards you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell “STOP” or “STAY BACK”. Most rapists said they’d leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Such men are looking for an easy target – don’t let that be you!
Keep on top of the latest personal safety news
We are constantly updating our blog with useful information about personal safety, including stories from people that want to share their experiences. We will also publish articles written by our own experts, some of whom are still employed in law enforcement and have up to-date knowledge of the latest trends in criminal activity. Please join us by going to our blog.