Horsham council reminds residents to stay safe during Christmas season

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Christmas is a time for fun and festivities but it can also be busy and stressful.

Members of the Horsham District Community Safety Partnership are keen to ensure that everyone living in and visiting the Horsham district enjoy the festivities and do so as safely as possible.

Statistically the district remains the safest place in West Sussex and the partnership is reminding residents to take care during Christmas shopping, at festive parties or other social events to avoid becoming a victim of crime.

The partnership is promoting locally the advice being offered by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which was set up in 1986 after the disappearance of the young estate agent.

The aim of the trust is to raise awareness of the importance of personal safety and to help people to avoid violence and aggression and live safer, more confident lives.

The trust has put together some helpful advice to keep safe during the festive season:

Christmas shopping

Try to keep one hand free and don’t carry too many bags

Avoid taking young children shopping in busy areas but if it is unavoidable, speak to children about a meeting place and tell them not to leave the shop on their own

Agree a meeting point with older children if separated

Park cars in well lit areas and take care after dark

Choose a well-lit space in multi-storey car parks and try and park need to exits and away from pillars

Keep doors locked while driving in busy areas

Don’t leave presents on show in an unattended car

Keep alert and aware of surroundings where thieves could be operating

Keep valuables in sight and keep them together

Christmas parties

Remember that alcohol can affect judgement so don’t let it endanger personal safety

The most common date rape drug is alcohol, with victims being given drinks with a far higher alcohol content than might be thought

Watch drinks and food to ensure nothing is added to them

Don’t leave drinks unattended at any time, if it has been left, don’t drink it

If something tastes odd or looks it, don’t eat or drink it – but some date rape drugs are colourless and tasteless

If offered a drink, decline it or accompany the person to the bar to check nothing has been added

If meeting someone new at a party, avoid going home with them or inviting them back home/accepting a lift. It’s safer to arrange a second date and get to know the person better.

Pay attention to instincts, if there’s an uneasy feeling there may be a reason

Carry keys, mobile phone and some money in a pocket so a handbag or wallet could be given up and an escape can be made quickly

Transport

The party is over, take care if tired and slightly worse for wear

Plan cabs or taxis in advance and try to call a licensed cab company from a venue and be picked up outside

Never accept a lift from a minicab touting for trade on the street. They are illegal and can be very dangerous

Sit in the back of a cab/taxi and don’t give away personal details if a conversation is struck up with the driver

If using public transport, have a ticket, pass or change ready so that wallets and purses are out of sight

Always wait for a bus or train in a well-lit place near other people of possible and try and arrange to meet someone at the bus stop/station

Take note of where emergency alarms are and try to sit near them

If a bus is empty or it is after dark, stay on the lower deck as near as possible to the driver

On trains, avoid empty compartments or compartments that have no access to other parts of the train. If threatened, press the alarm button and make as much noise as possible to attract the attention of a guard or the driver

To download a free keeping safe guide, visit www.suzylamplugh.org/tips