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Personal safety


Answer

It is an offence to possess certain weapons in private unless a defence applies, please see the table below for a full list of these weapons:
 
Knife type Description
Butterfly knives Also known as ‘balisongs’. A handle that splits in the middle to reveal a blade.
Disguised knives A blade or sharp point hidden inside something that looks like an everyday object such as a buckle, phone, brush or lipstick.
Flick knives or gravity knives Also known as ‘switchblades’ or ‘automatic knives’. Folding knives where the blade opens automatically, by gravity or by pressing a button or something else on the knife.
Stealth knives Non metal knives or spikes which are not made for use at home, for food or as a toy.
Zombie knives A knife with a cutting edge, a serrated edge and images or words suggesting it is used for violence.
Swords A curved blade over 50 centimetres, with some exceptions such as antiques, swords made to traditional methods, swords made before 1954, certain religious reasons or for the purposes of an organisation holding a historical activity or sporting activity for which public insurance liability is held.
Swordstick A hollow walking stick or cane containing a blade.
Push dagger A knife where the handle fits within a clenched fist and the blade comes out from between two fingers.
Blowpipes Sometimes known as ‘blow guns’. A hollow tube out of which hard pellets or darts are shot by the use of breath.
Telescopic truncheons A knife that extends automatically, or by pressing a button or spring that is in or attached to the handle.
Batons Straight, side-handled or friction-lock truncheons.
Hollow kubotan A cylinder-shaped container containing a number of sharp spikes
Shurikens Also known as ‘shaken’, ‘death stars’ or ‘throwing stars’. A hard non-flexible plate with three or more sharp radiating points, designed to be thrown.
Kusari gama A sickle attached to a rope, cord, chain or wire.
Kyoketsu shoge A hook-knife attached to a rope, cord, chain or wire.
Kusari or ‘manrikigusari’ A weight or hand grip attached to a rope, cord, chain or wire.
Handclaws A band of metal or other hard material worn on the hand, from which sharp spikes come out.
Footclaws A bar of metal or other hard material worn on the foot, from which a number of sharp spikes come out.
Knuckle dusters A band of metal or other hard material worn on one or more fingers.
Cyclone or spiral knives A blade with one or more cutting edges that form a spiral and come to a point.
Belt buckle knife A buckle which incorporates or conceals a knife.
 
Defences for possession in private include:
  • the weapon is of historical importance
  • the weapon is an antique (manufactured more than 100 years ago)
  • in their capacity as the operator of, or as a person acting on behalf of, a museum or gallery
  • educational purposes
  • theatrical performances and rehearsals, the production of films and television programmes
  • conduct carried out on behalf of the Crown or of a visiting force
Whether a defence applies will be judged on a case by case basis and will ultimately be a matter for a court to decide.
 
If you are unsure whether an item in your possession is illegal or you wish to surrender a weapon, you should contact your local police force. 
 
Please also see the links below which provide information on the law relating to possession of knives and offensive weapons in public places:
 
 
 


Answer

There are several websites that give sound advice about this topic. Listed below are a comprehensive sample of the steps that can be taken to ensure your personal safety:

  • Never leave your bag or coat unattended in a pub or nightclub, it is an ideal place for thieves.
  • Never leave your drink unattended, as it is very easy for someone to put an illegal substance in your drink, which could have very serious consequences for you.
  • Always make sure you know how you are going to get home after a night out. It is best to travel home with friends and not on your own.
  • Book a taxi home before going out, do not flag down a taxi as you cannot be sure they are a licensed cab driver.
  • Avoid any confrontation or fighting, if someone is threatening you, tell a door supervisor but do not get involved.
  • Never accept a drink from a stranger. Go with the person to the bar if you want to accept a drink.

In general though, wherever you are try and remember the following suggestions:

  • Do not walk home alone late at night. If you do, choose well-lit main roads and walk confidently.
  • If someone does grab your bag fighting back is not always a good idea, you do not know if your attacker has a weapon.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Reading and listening to music can be distracting.
  • In a busy public place, try to only use your mobile phone in an emergency as it is advertising the fact that you have a phone and whilst using it you are distracted, making it easier to take it from you.
  • If you are attacked it is often better to shout fire rather than help, it tends to attract more attention.


Answer

Here are some personal safety tips to follow if you are out and about:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Be careful when reading or listening to music as this can be distracting.
  • In a busy place, try to use your mobile phone in emergencies only as it is advertising the fact that you have a phone. Whilst using your phone you are distracted, making it easier to take it from you.
  • Try to avoid walking home alone late at night. If you do, choose well-lit main roads and walk confidently.
  • If someone tries to take something from you, it may be better to let them take it rather than getting into a confrontation and risk injury.
  • If you are involved in a confrontation, reasonable force may be appropriate when used in self-defence (please see the link in Related Information for further guidance).


Answer

Listed below are a few points which will help to ensure you and your belongings are safe:

  • Keep bags closed and secure at all times.
  • Conceal your wallet or purse in a buttoned or zipped pocket where it doesn't bulge.
  • Avoid putting valuables such as phones, wallets or purses in your back pocket.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash with you when shopping.
  • Keep pin numbers secure, do not write them down.
  • If the fastening of your handbag is on the side, keep the side with the fastening closest to your body and not exposed.
  • Rucksack type bags with the opening on the back are not a good place to keep valuables as they are easily opened.
  • Keep your purse or wallet at the bottom of your bag.
  • Do not carry too many bags of shopping as it makes you vulnerable against pick pockets.
  • Do not hang bags on the back of a chair.

Here are some general personal safety tips to follow when you are out and about:

  • Do not walk home alone late at night. If you do, choose well-lit main roads and walk confidently.
  • If someone does grab your bag fighting back is not always a good idea, you do not know if your attacker has a weapon.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Reading or listening to music can be distracting.
  • In a busy public place, try to only use your mobile phone in an emergency as it is advertising the fact that you have a phone, and whilst using it you may be distracted, making it easier to take it from you.
  • Carry a personal safety alarm.
  • If you are worried or threatened on public transport, contact the guard or the British Transport Police.
  • If you are attacked it is often better to shout 'fire' rather than 'help', it tends to attract more attention.


Answer

When travelling on public transport, the companies themselves issue a lot of advice particularly in the stations or on the buses and trains themselves. However, it is worth bearing in mind the following general advice when travelling:

  • Always sit downstairs on a bus, as near to the driver as possible.
  • On a train try not to sit in an empty compartment.
  • Make sure you keep hold of all personal belongings.
  • If something or someone is bothering you, inform the guard or driver, they can stay with you if you feel uncomfortable 
  • Try and have your fare ready so you don't have to get out your purse/wallet.

In relation to general personal safety try and remember the following suggestions:

  • Try not to walk alone late at night and where possible choose well-lit main roads and walk confidently.
  • If someone does grab your bag fighting back is not always a good idea, you do not know if your attacker has a weapon.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Reading or listening to music can be distracting.
  • In a busy public place, try to use your mobile phone only in an emergency as it is advertising the fact that you have a phone. Whilst using your mobile phone you may be distracted, making it easier to take it from you.
  • If you are attacked it is often better to shout 'fire' rather than 'help', it tends to attract more attention.


Answer

The only fully legal self-defence product at the moment is a rape alarm. These are not expensive and can be bought from most local police stations or supermarkets.

There are other self-defence products that claim to be legal (e.g. non toxic sprays), however, until a test case is brought before the court, we cannot confirm their legality or endorse them. If you purchase one you must be aware that if you are stopped by the police and have it in your possession there is always a possibility that you will be arrested and detained until the product, its contents and legality can be verified.

However, accepting there is a lot of concern about street crime, we can try to clarify matters a little by putting forward the following points.

  • You must not get a product that is made or adapted to cause a person injury. Possession of such a product in public (and in private in specific circumstances) is against the law.
  • There are products that squirt a relatively safe, brightly coloured dye (as opposed to a pepper spray). A properly designed product of this nature, used in the way it is intended, should not be able to cause an injury. However, if an injury does occur, this may be assault.
  • Any products bought from abroad have a greater chance of being illegal.

The above advice is given in good faith, you must make your own decision and this website cannot be held responsible for the consequences of the possession, use or misuse of any self-defence product. See Q85 for information on the use of reasonable force.


Answer

People are being increasingly targeted via social networking sites. Anybody who can get access to your personal information can do this; whether it is a former partner/friend or someone you have never met before. This is why it is extremely important to protect yourself when using sites such as Facebook /Twitter.
You should always be cautious about including any of the following information:

  • Name;
  • Address;
  • Telephone numbers/Email addresses;
  • Education / Employment information;
  • Photographs which may show your home and any valuables you may own;
  • Date of Birth;
  • Status updates/comments which may state when you are not at home, when you are going on holiday, what expensive items you have recently bought etc.

Be wary of including 'friends of friends' in your privacy settings, as this effectively allows anybody, to view your information. The anonymity of the internet makes it easy for people to lie about their identity; so be wary of accepting strangers who send you a friend request. They could be pretending to be someone else (e.g. lying about their gender/age) in order to persuade another person to agree to meet up with them, when in actual fact they have criminal intentions.

Also, if you add someone who you do not know, they may begin to ask you questions over time and aim conversations to particular subjects, in order to find out more information about you. If they already have your email address, they could log in to that account using the information you have given them and answer your security questions/reset your passwords. Once they have done this and have access to your personal emails, they could be gaining access to your bank details, online shopping accounts, PayPal etc. and use these to take money from your accounts or buy goods in your name.

'Internet matters' and 'Cyberstreet Wise' are websites that offer advice on using social networking securely and what safeguarding measures to take. You will find links to these, and other helpful websites, in the related information section.


Answer

A Taser is a weapon capable of discharging an electrical current and is classified as a prohibited firearm. It is therefore an offence to possess, purchase, acquire, manufacture, sell or transfer such a weapon, without lawful authority. Lawful authority is only granted to bodies such as the Police, and would never cover a member of the general public. Tasers should therefore not be used or be in the possession of any member of the public.

Tasers can be legally used by the Police, however, they are only used by highly-trained officers, who can only use them when and where they are authorised to do so. All Taser use by Police officers is monitored and recorded.

For further information please see links in Related Information. 


Answer

The Trading Standards Institute gives detailed advice regarding cold callers and advice on your rights regarding them.

'Doorstep sellers' are becoming an increasing problem, usually targeting older people. Someone comes to your door with the aim of scamming you out of money or trying to gain access to your home to steal items. In some cases, the sellers portray to be reformed criminals who are looking to start their lives again.

You can put up a 'no cold callers' sign which should deter them from knocking on your door, and if a cold caller ignores this sign it is a criminal offence. Whilst the police may not be able to take action in each individual case of the sign being ignored, the information can be used to target these sellers and prevent them from committing crimes.

If you are the victim of this and the callers refuse to leave, you can contact the police. If you are not in immediate danger, we would advise that you make a report via the non-emergency 101 number or on the 999 number in an emergency.

For further guidance please see the links in 'related information' to helpful websites.


Answer

Whilst driving around in the car, keep all doors locked. This will prevent people from getting into the car when you stop at traffic lights or junctions.

If driving late at night, make sure someone knows what time to expect you home.

Before setting off on a long journey, make sure you have enough petrol, water, oil etc in your car.

If you park or leave your car, take any valuables with you. If you cannot take your valuables with you, do not leave them on view in your car.

Park your car in a well-lit and secure car park.

When parking at your house at night, make sure you have your house keys at the ready.

If you think someone is following you home, never go home, drive straight to the nearest police station. If you do not know where the nearest police station is, drive to a place where you know there will be people, such as a shop or petrol station.

In general, wherever you are:

  • Do not walk home alone late at night. If you do then choose well-lit main roads and walk confidently.
  • If someone does grab your bag fighting back is not always a good idea, you do not know if your attacker has a weapon.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Reading and listening to music can be distracting.
  • In a busy public place, try to only use your mobile phone in an emergency as it is advertising the fact that you have a phone and whilst using it you may be distracted, making it easier to take it from you.
  • If you are attacked it is often better to shout fire rather than help, it tends to attract more attention.


Answer

Festivals are full of fun-loving crowds who have come to enjoy the experience and have fun. They are also extremely busy so it is important to keep your wits about you and be prepared. Below we have set out some key guidance to follow to ensure you stay safe while making the most of your festival experience.

  • Leave your valuables at home if possible
  • Mark your tent/property with your name and postcode
  • Avoid wandering off alone - there is safety in numbers
  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Arrange a meeting point in case any of you lose your phone/battery dies and can't be contacted.
  • See Q234 for advice on general personal safety.

Generally there is a lot of drinking/drug taking at festivals and it is important to know your limits. Drinking to excess can affect your judgement and result in you making silly decisions. Please see related links for a more extensive list on festival safety.

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