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17 December 2013, 10:57 | Updated: 17 December 2013, 11:06
As part of the Christmas Crime Prevention week, Wiltshire Police are issuing advice regarding personal safety.
At this time of year with all the Christmas parties and nights out, it is easy to forget to take sensible measures to stay safe. Our Police want to remind people of simple steps they can take to reduce the chance of becoming a victim.
It is also very important that any potential offenders are aware that they will face serious consequences if they commit violent or sexual offences and that they face a prison sentence. DS Julie Law said:
"We want everyone to be able to enjoy the festive season in a safe manner. It is important to remember that you are more vulnerable after consuming alcohol so make a plan on how to get home safely with friends before you go out. Don't leave your drink unattended and think twice before accepting a drink from someone you don’t know.
We encourage everyone to take these measures at all times of the year. Simple things like making sure that someone knows when you are expected to be home, making sure you stick with friends, ensuring you have a charged mobile phone and sticking to well lit areas are easy ways to help decrease the opportunity for offenders to strike.
Victims may be worried about contacting the police to report sexual assault and we understand that it can be very difficult to talk about something like this; however I would like to reassure people that anyone who reports a sexual assault will be treated with dignity and respect.
A cell in police custody is not a festive place to be. Our message to offenders is this, we will do everything in our power to identify you and put you before the courts."
Personal Safety tips:
• Think about your safety before you leave home; make sure someone knows where you are going, who you are with and what time you are likely to return.
• Plan your transport ahead; if you are catching a bus or train, what time does it leave and return, what will you do if you miss it or it is cancelled? And If travelling by taxi, always use a properly licensed firm and book ahead. On the return journey wait for the taxi driver to ask for you - don’t assume a car pulling up is your taxi
• Fully charge your mobile phone and keep it with you so you can keep in contact with your friends and family and ring police should you need to
• Try to stay with friends and don’t go off alone - don’t let any of your friends go off alone either. Look out for each other especially if one of you has drunk too much
• Walking home in the dark is never a good idea, but if you absolutely must, try to walk with a friend, keep to busy well lit roads even if it means taking a longer route
• If you think someone is following you, go to the nearest place where there are people and ask for help, or, if you can’t find somewhere or you are worried about someone’s behaviour towards you in any way, ring 999.
• Don’t be afraid about being wrong or over-reacting; the Police would rather be called only to find that all is well, than be dealing with an incident because someone was afraid of calling them.
• Carrying a personal attack alarm is a good idea, day or night, especially if you are walking alone.
• Always try to be aware of what and who is around you and avoid putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.
• And remember, it might not be you that is in danger – if you see anything you think is suspicious call the police – better safe than sorry!
If you are a victim of sexual assault, tell someone. Even if you don’t want to tell police, tell a trusted friend, family member or GP. If you want to talk to someone in confidence you can ring the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) on 0808 168 0024 available 24/7. They are trained to help with victims of sexual assault and can offer advice and guidance.
Jools James-Kempshall Manager of the SARC said:
"We will support everybody who makes contact with us and will offer non-judgemental help and advice whichever route you decide to take. There are two routes of referral into the SARC, Police referrals where an official complaint has been made to police or self referral. Victims who self refer i.e. those who do not choose to have any police involvement can gain 24/7 access to crisis support, first aid and specialist clinical and forensic care. These referrals can also be made via your GP, out of hours clinics, A&E departments or via a third party such as a school or college counsellor.
Our priority is to help ensure that people can enjoy the party season in a safe way. Our message is simply; think about your safety, remain vigilant and plan ahead, make sure that someone knows where you are going and when you expect to be home.
Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have drunk so much alcohol that you are at risk of becoming a victim or equally an offender, never leave your drink unattended and don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know. If you feel concerned about your own or someone else’s safety then call police, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry."