London is one of the worlds biggest and most cosmopolitan cities, and whilst the legendary pickpockets of Oliver Twist may seem quaint in your English classes back home, they still exist in London. There are dangers lurking in London, the good news is you can eradicate most of them by a little bit of common sense.
Living in a new city can be daunting, especially in a big place like London. Keep money, keys, oystercard on your person rather than in a bag, avoid using a mobile phone outside and consider using inconspicuous headphones for your ipod! But generally criminals target people who don’t look like they belong. In a diverse city like London that means they won’t target by how you look, but how you act. If you look like you own the place, walk confidently with purpose and don’t wave valuables about, you are unlikely to be targeted. Try not to go to places you don’t know late at night, 1am is not the time to try out a new shortcut. Whilst you might be able to get a map on your smartphone, how smart is it to walk down a street with it out? Before you go out, do you know how you are getting home?
If you feel you are in a threatening situation, get to the nearest public place and call a friend or the police. If travelling alone, try to let someone you see regularly (e.g. flat mate) know where you are going! Report incidents to the police, halls, S.U or security – even if its a false alarm its good to get it off your chest.
Travel Safely at Night
Taking an illegal cab home after a night out is dangerous. Any minicab that isn’t booked is illegal and unsafe. Illegal cabs are unregulated; there is no record of their journeys. Illegal cab drivers pose serious risks to the public and can be a cover for some of the most serious crimes in London including sexual violence and robbery.
Only taxis (black cabs) can pick up customers on the street. If a minicab – even one carrying the blue Transport for London sticker in the front and back window – approaches you on the street, they are breaking the law and it is unsafe.
Transport for London’s text service, Cabwise, helps you get a licensed taxi or minicab to pick you up from wherever you are and take you home safely. Just TEXT ‘CAB’ to 60835 to get 1 taxi and 2 local licensed minicab numbers in the area you text from, sent to your mobile.
Public transport is a safer alternative to taking an illegal cab. There are many Night buses: over 100 routes, all with CCTV. Last Tubes leave central London around 00.30 Monday – Saturday nights, 11.30pm on Sundays.
Transport for London fund over 2,500 officers dedicated to policing London’s transport network to further improve safety and security when travelling. If you decide to walk home, take care. Stick to well-lit streets and avoid using alleyways or short cuts.
You can plan your night out and get the latest information on late night travel by visiting tfl.gov.uk/traveltools before you go out. Plan your journey in advance with Journey Planner, use Findaride to get the details of licensed minicabs in the area that you’re going out in or get maps, timetables and free mobile travel alerts.
Oyster Card Discounts
A Student Oystercard gets you 30% off season tickets on London buses and tubes. To apply go online to http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/faresandtickets/1014.aspx. You will need a digital photo of yourself, with a white background (lots of contrast), if you have any problems come and see us in the Union and we’ll see if we can help. Always use an oystercard if you can, as cash fares on London transport are at least double.
For more info visit tfl.gov.uk or call London Travel Information on 020 7222 1234.