Out on the tiles
All graduates who spent their time at uni or college taking full advantage of the local nightlife have their tales of woe about a night out on the tiles.
The nights usually start with drinking lots in a short space of time and end in a blur with you doing something you’d rather not have done, throwing up ’til the next full moon, or in a police station reporting a lost bag or a stolen phone.
It sounds preachy, but don’t drink too much, as this can leave you vulnerable and you are more likely to be the victim or perpetrator of crime when drunk. The best course of action is to know your limits and stick to them.
However there are other practical tips to remember on a night out to help you stay safe:
- Keep bags closed and fastened. Be wary when wearing a backpack. If someone grabs it, let it go. Bags – and their contents – can be replaced.
- Keep your wallet out of sight.
- Use cash machines in daylight or with a mate. Otherwise, choose a well-lit one or one inside a bank (see the back page for more on this and credit card fraud).
- Don’t be flash with cash (keep it in your pocket) or your laptop (keep this hidden in an anonymous bag like a rucksack).
- If you take your mobile out with you, keep it hidden and keep calls brief.
- Plan how to get home, book a taxi and don't hitch a ride.
- If you suspect you’re being followed, cross over the road to see if they follow. If you’re still worried, don’t hang about. Go to a public place and call a mate to meet you, or the police.
- Have your house keys ready before you reach the door – and carry them on you, not in your bag.
- Walk confidently and be aware of what’s going on around you.
- Try to blend in and avoid wearing your ‘Drunk’ or ‘Lost’ student badge which will make you stand out to criminals.
- Remember, if you’re chatting on the phone or listening to your MP3 player, you won’t hear someone come up behind you. Your hearing is your best protection and your voice is your best defence. If you’re attacked, shout and run.
- When your gut says there’s trouble ahead, there probably is. Get somewhere safe.
- Steer clear of a confrontation; it’s really not worth it.
- If something does happen to you, report it to the police and campus authorities. You could stop it happening to someone else.
What you need to know about spiking
- Spiking drinks with alcohol or drugs does happen.
- People do it ‘to be funny’, out of spite or anger, to rob you or to leave you open to sexual assault.
- It only takes 15 minutes for the effects of ‘rape drugs’ to kick in, but they can wipe out eight hours of memory.
- Most people know their spiker, and men’s drinks get spiked too!
How to protect yourself against spiking
- Don’t take a drink you haven’t seen poured.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended, especially if nipping outfor a fag.
- If you suddenly feel unusually drunk, ask someone you trust to get you home.
- If a mate starts acting out of character, they might have been drugged – ask for help and get them home safely.