London is the capital of The United Kingdom and the most visited city in Europe. But did you know that technically the City of London is actually the smallest city in the UK? This is because the City of London is actually only 1.12 square miles and is composed of only 8,618 people according to 2021 census data by The Office Of National Statistics. The rest of what most people would consider London is actually within Greater London, which has a population of 8.8 million people according to the Trust for London. Despite the size of the city or town you are in it is always good practice to take measures to keep yourself safe, cities like London can seem more intimidating to tourists coming from less built up areas. But following helpful advice within this guide will increase your chances of staying safe.
Finding suitable accommodation is one of the most important decisions you will make as a tourist, as choosing hotels or B&B’s in areas with high crime can increase your chances of being a victim yourself. To improve your safety consider these tips:
– Area: Make sure that you research the area you are going to be staying in to avoid areas with particularly high crime, as those areas will increase your chances of being a victim yourself. If you’ve driven into the city center, choosing a safe car park like a Harrods car park and then traveling around London on the World famous London Tube system is a good idea!
– Choosing the Right B&B/Hotel: Ensure that you research the place you are staying, looking at reviews and comments from previous guests to give you an idea of what staying there is like. Usually if somebody feels unsafe they will put this in the review, look out for these and decide if there is a high number of people feeling unsafe about the accommodation or area. So you can consider other options.
– Consider Purchasing A Portable Hotel Lock: You can buy devices that will stop a door from opening, this can be useful if you find yourself staying in dodgy accommodation and don’t trust the people working there – who all have access to your room. Using a portable hotel lock can prevent this.
– Avoid Leaving Opened Containers Of Food & Drink In the Communal Fridge: Leaving unattended food and drink in communal areas full of complete strangers can spell bad news. As your food can get tampered with or spiked. However if you need to leave food in a communal fridge it is safe to leave sealed containers/packets in the fridge – just inspect the packaging when you take it out of the fridge.
How you travel within London is another important consideration, choosing the right methods of transport and sticking to crowded areas can improve your safety. Check out these travel tips to stay safe:
– Safety In Numbers: If possible travel with friends and those that you trust as much as possible, however if this is not possible consider prioritizing main roads and crowded areas. As the more people around the less likely you are to be singled out, and even if you are targeted there are other people that can step in to protect you.
– Only Use Taxis/Licensed Minicabs: It is important to make sure that anyone claiming to be a taxi has up to date identification to provide peace of mind that you have a good chance of arriving at your destination safely. Choosing an unlicensed taxi can lead to scary situations such as kidnappings and murders.
– Report Any Unattended Bags In Public Spaces: We have all heard the slogan “See it. Say it. Sorted.” that gets played in transport hubs. It is important to realize that this can not only jeopardize your own safety, but those around you if there is an explosive concealed within. You can contact the British Transport Police on 0800 405040.
Bars and Restaurants can provide an enjoyable experience, but they can also be hotbeds for crime, follow these handy tips to stay safe:
– Moderate Your Drinking: Remember as a tourist you are in an unfamiliar place and moderate your drinking to ensure that you can get yourself and your friends home safely at the end of the night.
– Never Accept Drinks From Strangers: Accepting drinks from strangers increases your chance of consuming a spiked drink.
– Keep Your Drink Safe: If you find yourself alone with a drink and you need to use the restroom, take your drink into the toilet with you, this ensures that your drink is not spiked while you’re in the toilet.
Shopping can be a rewarding experience, but it is beneficial to stay vigilant for both your own safety and to ensure that any valuables you are carrying are not stolen.
- Pickpocketing: Keeping your valuables safe and close to you can reduce your chances of getting pickpocketed. If you are carrying expensive items such as a camera in your backpack consider purchasing a lock for your backpack. If you want to go one step further you can purchase backpacks that cannot be cut open with knives, further reducing your chances of being pickpocketed. Additionally, refrain from keeping valuables and important documents in the back pockets of your trousers; because it is easier for thieves to steal from.
- Fake Tickets & Fake Designer Items: Always make sure you buy event tickets from reputable vendors, not ‘touts’ in the street who may not be selling you a genuine ticket. This is a common scam. Another scam to be vigilant for is the fact that a lot of markets within big cities tend to sell fake designer goods, where you may feel like you are getting a fantastic deal for a branded item that would be more expensive in a reputable shop. You may actually be losing out in the end. It is always best to buy expensive items from reputable sellers.
- Stay In Regular Contact with family/friends about your whereabouts: This provides you extra peace of mind, and allows people to check in on you and make sure you have got to the place you said you were going to earlier on in the day. This can be a valuable safety net in case of emergency.
London has a wealth of activities for each member of the family, whether you prefer sightseeing or more of a party lifestyle. London has it all. Wherever you find yourself, taking precautions to keep yourself safe is recommended, and London is no exception.