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Crime in Britain Today: Personal Safety and You

In my last article about Crime in Britain Today, I looked at the national crime situation in the UK, how you can inform yourself on the volume and nature of crime in your local neighbourhood and why investment in self defence training should be something we all should strongly consider.

In this follow up article, I’m looking at how we take situational awareness and translate it into practical and sensible behaviours to keep our possessions, family & friends and ourselves safe. We should never take our safety for granted. Our safety and that of our family is more important than our phone, wallet or other valuables.

Self defence is initially about how we think and act before any threat is apparent, it is first and foremost about avoidance of confrontation or conflict. Avoidance is a practical act. It is not about weakness or fear, but reflects our deeper understanding of the situation around us, clarity of mind and knowledge that in any situation of conflict, regardless of combat skill level, any person involved is at risk of legal consequences, injury or death. Real self defence is only applied when absolutely necessary.

Situational awareness and avoidance can be employed using a few simple rules adopted from advice issued by one of the leading Police forces in the world, the Metropolitan Police in London, as well as known practical advice we use in our  Spartans Academy of Krav Maga classes.

Here are some examples of sound advice when you are away from home:
– Prepare and consider your travel arrangements carefully and ensure someone knows where you are going, who you are with and when you might be home.
-Avoid short cuts and dark isolated areas, vary your routine and be discreet handling cash, phones and wearing jewellery in a public place.
-If you feel uneasy about an individual or situation, trust your instincts and leave the area and head towards a public place such as a shop. Do not be afraid to offend or appear rude to strangers approaching you if you are not comfortable with the situation. Your safety is more important than consideration of their feelings.
– Look as assertive as you can, walk with confidence and be aware of your surroundings and who is around you.
– Wearing headphones and talking on the phone can make you unaware of your immediate surroundings. This makes you appear vulnerable and gives an advantage to a criminal. Recent advice from a senior UK counter-terror official has also highlighted the danger electronic devices poses in terms of lack of awareness towards today’s terrorist modus operandi; active shooter or suicide bomber threats. Be aware of what’s around you, not what’s on your phone screen.
– When you enter a new public venue such as a shop, bar or restaurant, notice the people inside and new people entering. Place yourself in a position that you can see the venue clearly. Pay attention if they do not make you comfortable and leave if you can. Always check where you can exit quickly in case of an incident.
– If you use a cash point or ATM be suspicious if you see someone hanging around, if in doubt use another cash machine and have a friend watch your back.
– Keep your bags close to you, preferably on the front of the body and secured with zips closed. Check your belongings and your pockets regularly. Instead of having all your money in a wallet, spread notes in different pockets around the body so, in case of a robbery, you can hand out a lesser amount and not lose other content such as ID or credit cards.
– Pre book a licensed cab to pick you up or use a mini cab office. Never get into a mini cab off the street they are illegal and often uninsured and dangerous.
– If you think someone is following you, check by safely crossing to the other side of the road as confidently as you can, repeat more than once if necessary. If the person also crosses and you feel that your suspicions have been confirmed keep moving, stay to main, busy or well lit routes until you get to the first safe public place, tell people what is happening and contact the police. If you go to a residential house, choose one that is lit, ring the door bell and knock loudly and call out a fictitious (male) name in an attempt to show you expect a male friend to open the door.

– If you need to call out for help, call out ‘Fire’ rather than cry for help. Research shows that people are more likely to help in a fire situation than a situation that require medical or police support, especially if they think they may be exposed to personal danger.

– If a stranger buys you a drink, go to the bar with them and watch that nothing is added to your drink and never leave your drink unattended. If you feel strange after a drink, tell a trusted friend immediately and make sure you are accompanied home by them.
– Be careful not to let alcohol affect your ability to take care of yourself and always look after your family or friends.

These are a few of the many practical things a situationally aware person, such as someone trained in Krav Maga self defence, could do to optimise their personal safety and look after their family or friends.
Prevention is an important skill to have in self defence and will, when applied, lead to avoidance of incidents where we are in personal danger. Being a part of the story, the picture of being able to optimise personal and family security is only fulfilled when the physical and psychological skills acquired from self defence training is obtained. This is where Krav Maga is recognised as the leading self defence system in the world. Krav Maga teaches the practitioner the techniques, tactics and thinking needed to deal with single or multiple attackers, whether armed or unarmed, all in real life situations – anything from everyday violence such as school bullies, domestic abuse, road rage and street violence through to major scenarios such as house invasions, knife attacks or terrorist active shooters.
Personal safety is not just about your self defence skills. It’s about your everyday thinking.

Stay safe.
Orjan Pettersen

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