This is part two of a three part series on how to stay safe in town. Or rather how to enjoy yourself in town safely. It’s an easy thing to do. Cardiff is a relatively small and safe city. Most people go out and have a good time with no issues. But that doesn’t mean bad things never happen or that you’ll never get caught up in them.
There are some simple things you can do to ensure your personal safety and most of them revolve around the sensible consumption of alcohol. This is not because we’re prudish or bores but because alcohol is involved in most cases of violent crime in Cardiff and in the majority of student crime in the city. Remember: It Only Takes One.
So it’s 9ish and you’re nearing town. We all know that some areas are safer than others. But an area’s reputation and the facts sometimes differ.
Everyone (well, people from outside the city) assume the bottom end of St Mary’s Street is where all the trouble occurs. This is down to publications like The Telegraph recycling old pictures and the worldwide acclaim that photographer Maciej Dakowicz acquired through his fantastic pictures.
But the figures don’t match up any more. A lot of the bars down that end of town have now gone and the majority of violent crime in Cardiff City Centre now happens on and around Greyfriars Road. That’s not to say that Greyfriars Road is dangerous, it’s just where you’re most likely to encounter trouble. Vice versa for St Mary’s Street, just because it has quietened down a bit doesn’t mean it’s all unicorns and pretty flowers down there.
But no matter where you are in town there are certain things you can do during the night to ensure your personal safety and limit the possibilities of coming into contact with the emergency services. And yes I’m going to talk about the excessive consumption of alcohol.
Although it seems ingrained in our culture and the polite thing to do, don’t get into rounds. I say this as it often leads to people drinking quicker than they usually do. Drink at your own pace. Also it avoids the inevitable situation when someone starts buying shots and the night rapidly descending.
When you’re at the bar ordering your own drinks, ask for a glass of water. Regular consumption of water will help you stay in control as well as helping with the hangover the next morning.
You may have heard people say you should never mix the grape and the grain, as in don’t mix your drinks – pick one and stick with it. This isn’t an old wives tale; it’s something to do with fusel oil. Basically science says not to do it and science is rarely wrong. Listen to science.
Talking of science (kind of), let’s move on to spiking; this is when a substance, such as drugs or alcohol, is added to your drink without you knowing. Spiking is relatively rare in Cardiff but that doesn’t mean it never happens.
There are two simple rules you can follow to avoid your drink being spiked. Firstly, don’t accept drinks off people you don’t know. That may appear rude (and hey, maybe against the reasons you’re out in town) but if you don’t know the person buying your drink then it is safest to decline. Secondly, never leave your drinks unattended. You may think this sounds simple but we’ve worked in enough bars to tell you people leave all sorts of stuff unattended when they’re out.
Which reminds us, pay the two quid and put your coat in the cloakroom and keep your bag on you at all times. The majority of crime involving students in the city centre isn’t violence; it’s theft. The drunker you are the more likely you are to lose your phone.
We’ve talked about some areas of town being safer than others and this is also true inside bars and clubs. There are “hotspots” in venues, places where people congregate and the chances of bumping into people (and sparking trouble) are increased. I’m talking about the edge of the dancefloor, doorways and in and around toilets and smoking areas. Use these areas but don’t hang around there.
And finally if you do knock someone’s drink over, just buy them another one; it’s a lot less hassle.