This is the final part of a 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.
OK so it’s the end of the night and people are trying to get home, get food, get lucky, whatever… and this is when most of the trouble happens in town and where your personal safety is put most at risk. In all likelihood if you’re not looking for trouble you’ll avoid it and if you’ve followed some of the tips in the previous articles then you shouldn’t be totally wasted and you stand an even better chance of getting home safely.
The safest way to get home is to be picked up by a family member or close friend, but you know, that isn’t always viable and it can be a bit embarrassing tumbling into the back of your dad’s motor so you’re left with three other options.
First up are taxis. The best plan is to pre-book before you leave the house (we probably should have mentioned that in part one, but hey). If you haven’t pre-booked, then try and order one when you’re out or use taxi ranks like the ones on St. Mary’s Street, which are marshalled. If you’re stuck with hailing one down, make sure it’s a black and white cab with a roof light, it’s from a reputable firm and that the cab and driver are licensed. This is obviously easier to do if you’re not blotto.
Another tip is that if you’re travelling alone in a taxi, always travel in the back. Some drivers may insist that you sit in the front with them in case you start feeling sick so they can get you out quicker. But sit in the back. This is because there have been reports of sexual assault and unlike in some other cities in the UK, there is no ban on sexual contact between drivers and passengers in the licences issued by Cardiff County Council. Now we’re not saying all taxi-drivers are sexual predators, far from it, the vast majority are honest and hard-working fellas but there have been incidents in Cardiff. You’re safer if you sit in the back and if you’re not heavily intoxicated. Make sure you have the cash to pay for a taxi and you have your keys at hand. If you need to use to a cash machine, have a look around before you use one and don’t flash the cash. It goes without saying that it’s safer to travel in groups.
The second option for getting home is using public transport, although probably not at one o’clock in the morning granted. Anyway if you do have the chance to use public transport here are a few tips: if you’re not travelling home with friends, try and at least wait with someone before boarding. Always try and sit near the driver/conductor and if you’re ever approached be assertive rather than aggressive.
The third and final way (unless you have a helicopter) is walking. This is probably the least safe way to get home but as we’ve said, Cardiff is a relatively safe city and you most likely won’t encounter any problems. Knife crime is a lot less prevalent here than in other cities in the UK and stranger rape is not a common occurrence.
Anyway here are a couple of things to bear in mind to make you even safer. Try to walk home in a group. If you’re alone, don’t wear headphones as this’ll make you unaware of things behind you. Talking on the phone may also distract you from your surroundings (and advertise that you have a flashy phone). Stick to well-lit and populated areas so don’t use the Taff Trail. Be aware that most street robberies in Cardiff happen in the City Centre, Cathays and the Bay.
If things do go awry, there are people in town to help you. The police of course have a noticeable presence but there are also Street Pastors out and about on weekends. These are volunteers who give out bottles of water and flip-flops to the tired and emotional. They are usually based in the Tabernacle Church and also provide tea, coffee and a safe place. They are in communication with the police and can assist you if you lose your friends (or your shoes, hence the flip-flops – cuts on feet from broken glass is a big problem).
If you drink sensibly and keep your wits about you when you’re out on the town, you’ll wake up the next day in one piece and with all your possessions (and your dignity, hopefully). If you go out with the intention of getting annihilated, then God knows where, when and in what state you’ll wake up in if you wake up at all.
Stay safe, guys.