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Personal safety advice for learners

Personal safety advice for learners following spate of recent incidents

Local PCSOs Lynsay McNeil and Dominic Doust have held a series of safety talks at the Grimsby Institute this week in a bid to arm learners against potential danger.

Responding to the recent spate of reported attempted abductions and assaults across the area, the two officers gave invaluable advice on how students can protect themselves.

“The incidents have been really hard to police because they’re possibly not down to the same person,” the PCSOs explained.

“They’re happening all over the area, at different times of day. That makes it difficult for us, and difficult for you to keep yourselves safe. Our advice is to do whatever you need to do to protect yourselves.”

But while a lot of the tips “seem quite obvious”, they hope they will prompt young people to be more conscious of their safety during their daily routine.

“You learn about stranger danger in primary school, not talking to someone you don’t know.

“You have to protect yourselves, if you don’t like the look of someone approaching you then look after number one. Make sure you make the right decision at the right time.

“Try not to panic. Go about your everyday routine, but just be more conscious about your safety and think about what you’re doing.

“Ultimately, it’s about reducing the opportunity a suspect might have to attack or assault you.”

Below is a summary of the advice given to learners.

What should you do before leaving home in the morning?

  • Notify people of your whereabouts so someone knows where you are. Don’t go off without telling anyone.
  • Travel in pairs or groups. Someone will be less likely to target you if you’re around other people.
  • Plan your route. Do you take shortcuts or alleyways where there aren’t many people about? If there is no CCTV or dim lighting it increases your chance of being vulnerable. Take an extra five minutes and go a longer way.
  • Make sure you have a fully charged phone. That is your lifeline if something happens. Pair your phone with your parents, siblings or friends. It may not seem cool but if something does happen, people need to know where you are.

What should you do during your journey?

  • Be observant of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for CCTV or businesses. Consider the time of day and the lighting along your route.
  • Do you wear headphones? Leave one ear free so you can hear anyone coming up behind you. That could give you the chance to turn around and defend yourself.
  • Do you walk with your hands in your pockets? If someone pushes you and your hands aren’t free, you’ll fall flat on the floor. This makes you more vulnerable.
  • When walking along a main road, face oncoming traffic. They can see you and you can see them. If traffic is coming up behind you, someone could easily take you by surprise.
  • If you suspect someone is following you, cross the road. If they follow you, cross again. If they still follow, they are doing it deliberately. Start to make your way to a point of safety.
  • Make sure there is a busy place, such as town centre or shopping area, on your route that you can go if you feel you’re being followed.
  • If you are on a bus and using social media, be aware of the person sitting behind you. If you have your back to a window, they may be able to see the reflection. In minutes, they can find out your name, who you’re talking to, where you go to learn.

What do you do if someone attacks you?

  • Scream. Make sure people are aware you’re not happy in the situation you’re in.
  • Ring 999 immediately after any incident. If a vehicle is involved, try to get the number plate, a partial reading or the make and model of the vehicle.
  • Defend, but do not retaliate. If someone is punching or grabbing you then you’re more than entitled to defend yourself and get away. The difference between that and retaliation is that once you have the opportunity to get away, you don’t carry on hitting or kicking them. You are allowed to use reasonable force to get away, but once you have that chance you must take it.