There are many things people do on nights out that you wouldn’t think twice about; walking to the bus stop on your own, using your phone in a club, talking to someone at the bar. Whilst this is normal behaviour and you shouldn't have to worry about any of these things, the unfortunate truth is that when you're out late, alone, or after having been drinking, you may be at risk. That doesn't mean you need to hide away at home - just make sure you're one step ahead, you keep your wits about you, and you're prepared. There are simple steps that you can take to make sure you keep yourself, your friends and your possessions safe on a night out.
Before your night out
Plan. How are you going to get there? Do you have to travel alone, or can that be avoided? Is the route to your bus stop well lit? If not, is there an alternative route? Quickly research the area you are going to. Five minutes on Google Streetview will show you if you're going to somewhere on a main road or private road, near a bus stop or not. It helps when you’re in a new area not to look as if you’re lost!
Do you know the group you are meeting? Inevitably during your time at University, you will have to come out of your comfort zone and meet people or groups of people you don’t know. If you're not comfortable, just ask if you can bring a friend along.
If you're going out on your own, tell someone you trust where you're heading and what time you plan to get back. Before you leave, make sure your phone is well charged and you've got enough cash for the journey home.
During your night out
Be alert. As we all know, student nights are massive and so are the nightclubs they're held in! It's easy to get separated from your friends... It happens all the time with large groups. Arrange a meeting point (bathrooms, cloak room, smoking area) where you can meet members of your group if you get lost.
Be vigilant with your drinks and your posessions - don't leave your phone lying around if you want to see it again! If you drink bottles, keep your thumb over the top of it when you’re dancing. And if you have a glass, make sure you keep it in your hand - never wander off and leave your drink unattended.
We all know one of the best parts of University life is making new friends. So enjoy being sociable! But if you do meet a person you don’t know, don’t wander off alone!! Make sure you know where your friends are. If someone offers to buy you a drink, accompany them to the bar so you can see what they are ordering for you.
After your night out
Avoid travelling alone on your way home. Obviously, your student budget dictates your actions to some extent, but consider setting aside the extra cash you can use for a taxi home instead of a nightbus if you’re travelling alone.
If you’re getting a taxi on your own, take a picture of the car's registration number plate and also a picture of the taxi driver's registration - which should be displayed on the dashboard. Don’t be embarrased or think this is strange, cab drivers get these kind of requests about 20 times a shift! Message the pictures to a friend. And if you’re in any doubt, call your flatmates to tell them you’re nearly home, so the driver knows someone is expecting you shortly.
If you have to catch a night bus, wait for the bus with a group of people. Keep your valuables, keys and phone out of sight and zipped away in your bag for the journey. If you're feeling sleepy, stand up rather than sitting - you don't want to fall asleep and miss your stop!
Be careful with your route home from the bus stop - don’t use your trusty short-cut through an alleyway!
...Your safety is the most important thing. If you’re not sure about going to a house party with a group of strangers, don’t. If there is someone suspicious at your bus stop, stand close to people. If someone offers you a drink in a pub or club, you can decline it. Stay with groups, and if you’re separated for any reason, set up a group message on whatsapp and message them your whereabouts!
Worrying about your safety doesn't have to get in the way of enjoying your time at university - but be sensible and look out for yourself and your friends.