London, like any major city, has its fair share of criminal activity. Unfortunately, reported crime has risen in the last 12 months compared to this time last year. The number one crime of 2019 has been theft, with 470,000 instances, followed by ‘violence against the person’ at 429,000 reports.. Burglary is at number four (161,000 instances) and sexual assault cases were ranked ninth at 40,500. These statistics combined with the recent terror attack at London Bridge reinforce the need to be alert and aware when travelling around the capital. A key piece of information to remember is that most crimes are ‘crimes of opportunity’. These are offences where the perpetrator sees that they have a chance to commit a crime in the moment and seize the opportunity without planning. Armed with this information, you can take small steps to help reduce your risk of becoming a victim to these types of offences.

1. Make preparations
Before you leave your home make sure you have a charged phone or a spare battery pack. A phone can be the easiest way to call for help in the event of an incident. If you feel like you are unsafe, you can also call a friend to update your whereabouts, and let them know when you have reached your destination. Always plan your route in advance and make sure you know where you are going, particularly at night. Stay on busy streets as these are better lit and most likely are monitored by CCTV cameras.

2. Be aware 
Knowing what’s going on around you is critical to assessing your safety wherever you are. Listening to loud music impairs your hearing, wearing a hood can impair your peripheral vision and texting while walking distracts you from your surrounds. Being present and knowing who and what is around you is a simple and practical way to avoid falling victim to opportunity.

3. Conceal your valuables
The saying ‘out of sight out of mind’ applies, hiding your valuables or making sure they are not on display can reduce your likelihood of becoming a target. Crimes of opportunity happen in an instant, if the perpetrator can easily see or access your jewelry, phone or wallet it makes it that much easier for them to seize the item. Avoid holding your phone out for long periods of time, and be particularly alert if you are using it for navigation.

4. Try to walk against traffic 
Oncoming traffic can easily see you a lot better than outgoing traffic. More eyes mean more witnesses that act as a deterrent to would-be thieves and criminals. This also makes it more difficult for perpetrators on bikes or mopeds to sneak up behind you (but don’t rule out front-on assaults).

5. Travel in groups
If you’re out for the night with a group of friends, be sure to look out for one another. If alcohol is involved, keep an eye on your own and each other’s drinks. Make sure you only travel with people you know and be sure they get home safely. Where possible, avoid shortcuts through quiet places and use routes of transport that are frequented by others.

The most important thing to remember is that items can be replaced but you cannot. Be
prepared to let your possessions go in the instance of a robbery to avoid the situation escalating further. While these tips may not always prevent crime, they will go a long way in reducing your risk and your ability to report information to the authorities.

If you’ve been the victim of a crime or think you have witnessed one, you should report it to the police straight away by calling 999.