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Protecting yourself

This page and our downloadable leaflet will give you a range of information designed to inform you about what to look out for.

Protect yourself image

You will also find advice and guidance on what you can do if the worst should happen. 

 

Personal safety

Violent crimes committed by strangers in public places account for a very low proportion of recorded crime, but nevertheless there are still measures that will dramatically reduce these crimes even further.

Most people already take simple precautions as part of their everyday lives, without realising it. Staying safe is all about anticipating potential problems by listening and being aware of what and who's around you, and knowing what action to take to stay out of danger.

Don't be frightened to trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, take action to avoid it:

  • Prepare - think about how you're going to get there and back and remember to tell someone where you're going, who you're going with and when you expect to return.
  • Look confident - remember your body language - stand tall and look like you know where you're going.
  • Carry a personal safety alarm and learn how to use it.
  • Carry emergency phone numbers (including the numbers to cancel your credit cards), some change, a phone card and your keys in a safe pocket.
  • Avoid risks and be aware - keep looking and listening to what's happening around you.
  • Try not to change plans at the last minute, but if you have to, tell someone.
  • Never take safety for granted - don't say to yourself 'it only happens to other people' or 'it's only a short journey' or 'they look honest'.
  • Trust your instincts - if you feel that something is wrong, it makes sense to avoid it.
  • Avoid short cuts through dark places - keep away from odd and out-of-the-way places whenever you can.
  • Cross the road if you see people you don't feel comfortable about and be aware of who's around you when you're out and about.
  • Walk in the middle of the pavement facing the traffic, so that cars can't follow you.
  • Mobile phones, MP3 players and laptops are attractive to thieves, so be careful where you use them and be aware of what's happening around you if you are using them.
  • Cover up expensive looking jewellery and wear your bag across your body, so that it opens on the side facing you.
  • In winter, wear your coat over your bag to hide it - you're an easy target if you leave your bag facing backwards over your shoulder or carry it over one shoulder.
  • If you use a wheelchair or motorised scooter, keep your handbag in front of you, rather than hanging it on the back of the chair where thieves can steal it.
  • If somebody does try to take your bag, let it go and don't fight to keep it - you're less likely to be hurt.

For further information visit https://www.westmercia.police.uk/Personalsafety

Keeping your valuables safe

Purse snatch leaflet https://www.westmercia.police.uk/media/2123/Purse-Snatch-leaflet/pdf/Purse_Snatch_ leaflet-cropped.pdf

Keep your valuables safe leaflet https://www.westmercia.police.uk/media/2122/Protect-your-valuables/pdf/protect_your_valuables-cropped.pdf

Cash machine fraud

Things to remember when using a cash machine.​

  • Be aware of your surroundings - if someone is crowding or watching you, cancel the transaction and go to another machine.
  • If there is anything unusual about the cash machine or signs of tampering, do not use the machine and report it to the bank immediately.
  • If you suspect that a skimming device has been attached to a cash machine, inform staff within the bank or if this is not possible, inform the police - put your personal safety first and do not attempt to remove it yourself.
  • Do not accept help from seemingly well-meaning strangers and never allow yourself to be distracted.
  • Stand close to the cash machine and always shield the keypad to avoid anyone seeing you enter your PIN.
  • Once you have completed a transaction, discreetly put your money and card away before leaving the cash machine.
  • If the cash machine does not return your card, report its loss immediately to your bank.
  • Tear up or preferably shred your cash machine receipt, mini-statement or balance enquiry when you dispose of them.

For further information visit https://www.westmercia.police.uk/article/5569/ATMfraud 

Cyber security

Top tips to stay safe online.​

  • No bank or card issuer will contact you by email and ask you to enter all your personal and financial details online - if you receive a message like this, report it to your bank, then delete it.
  • If you get an email from an unknown source, do not open it and do not click on any attachments.
  • Make sure that your anti-virus software is up to date.
  • Never follow the messages from anti-virus software you encounter whilst on the internet - only follow the anti-virus instructions from the software you have installed on your computer.
  • Install an anti-spyware package.
  • Always use a firewall.
  • Ensure that your software is up to date.

For further information visit https://www.westmercia.police.uk/article/8065/Cyber-security

Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is a serious and complex issue. It is a crime that remains largely hidden behind closed doors, leaving victims feeling trapped, powerless and isolated - afraid to say anything in case it makes a bad situation worse. 

However, abuse is rarely a one-off event. For example, on average a victim will endure 30 to 35 assaults before seeking help. The level of abuse is likely to increase over time and could even result in murder.

Experience suggests that friends, families and neighbours are often aware or suspect that something is happening but, for one reason or another, are reluctant to get involved - this is a mistake.

Domestic abuse ruins family life and has long term, serious consequences for everyone concerned.

The definition of domestic violence and abuse is: Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to:

  • make a person subordinate and / or dependent by isolating them from sources of support,
  • exploit their resources and capacities for personal gain,
  • deprive them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape, and
  • regulate their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

​Getting help

If you or somebody you know needs confidential help or advice, call:

West Mercia Women's Aid domestic abuse helpline:

  • Herefordshire and Shropshire: Tel: 0800 783 1359
  • Worcestershire: Tel: 0800 980 3331

Help is also available from the following organisations which can be accessed via the below links:

  • National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) - providing legal assistance to obtain civil orders / injunctions.
    www.ncdv.org.uk
  • GALOP - supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people experiencing domestic violence and abuse.
    www.galop.org.uk/domesticabuse
  • Mankind - supporting male victims of domestic violence and abuse.
    www.mankind.org.uk
  • Karma Nirvana - aiming to stop forced marriage and honour based violence.
    www.karmanirvana.org.uk
  • Refuge - a national domestic violence charity which provides specialist support to women and children who experience domestic violence.
    www.refuge.org.uk

Worried your partner could be abusive?

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (Clare's Law) gives you the right to ask the police if your partner has a history of domestic abuse. No one should feel unsafe in a relationship.

If you are in a relationship and you are worried that your partner may have been abusive in the past, or if you're concerned about a friend or relative in a relationship, or you're concerned about starting a new relationship, visit our web page Civil options and safeguarding tools (including DVPO, DVDS/Clare's Law). Here you will find advice and guidance on the scheme, how to make a report and information on Domestic Violence Protection Notices / Orders.

For further information visit https://www.westmercia.police.uk/clareslaw

Are you a victim of crime

In an emergency please call 999. You can contact the police on 101 to report the crime or visit a police station. For advice and reassurance please follow the below link to identify your safer neighbourhood team where their contact details are available https://www.westmercia.police.uk/myarea

Theft from person

Before contacting the police to report a theft it would be useful if you had any makes, models and serial numbers for any of the items that have been stolen.

If you are able to provide any makes, models and serial numbers it means that we can search our systems to see if any of the items have been handed in.

Having specific information about property that has been stolen means we can detail the stolen property onto the crime report. If your items are found at a later stage, we can search the crime report database and trace the items back to you.

What happens next?

Once you have reported an incident of theft to the police, you will be given a crime reference number which you may need for insurance purposes.

What else can I do?

If the item that has been stolen from you is a mobile phone, a laptop, a games console, a bike or a camera then you can register your property as stolen on https://www.immobilise.com which is the UK National Property Register. However, you would need specific serial numbers for your items before you can register them on the website.

Alternatively, if the item that has been stolen is one of the following items then you should also contact the relevant authorities / organisations to let them know:

  • A bank card - contact the bank or building society to get the bank card cancelled and also to find out whether there have been any transactions on your card after it has been stolen. If the bank provides you with details of transactions that were made after your card was stolen, then please ensure you obtain the following information so that we can investigate the card usages: the date, time, amount and location of the transaction.
  • A driving licence - contact the DVLA to advise them that your driving licence has been stolen, this can be done by following the link http://www.dvla-contact-number.co.uk/replace-a-lost-driving-licence/
  • A passport - contact Her Majesty's Passport Office (Tel: 0300 222 0000) or alternatively visit https:www.gov.uk/report-a-lost-or-stolen-passport. If a passport is found and handed in to a police station, it will have to be sent back to the HM Passport Office and cannot be returned back directly to the person who it belongs to.
  • A mobile phone - contact your service provider to get the phone barred to ensure that no one can make calls from it.

For further information visit https://www.westmercia.police.uk/article/46240/Theft-from-person

Assault

When you or someone you care about is assaulted, it is a very traumatic event. There are different levels of violence and assault and these are categorised in law by the level of injury.

The police response may be different based on the circumstances of the offence and the type of assault. Police may attend immediately or come and see you at a later time.

Reporting an incident to police

When a report of an assault is made to the police control room the operator will consider the circumstances including the following factors:

  • If there is a threat to life or limb.
  • If the incident is in progress or likely to occur or be resumed.
  • If there is a suspect at the scene or an early arrest is likely.
  • Violence is being used or threatened.
  • A 999 call is abandoned, or the operator thinks a police officer needs to attend immediately.

Depending on the circumstances it may be more appropriate for the victim to receive medical attention before speaking with the police - this will be assessed on a case by case basis.

In this case, what can you do before the police attend?

  • Obtain medical attention if required.
  • Keep any clothing or items relevant to the offence (if there is blood or forensic evidence).
  • Write down any witnesses.
  • Take photos of the injuries.

Police officers assigned to the incident will make contact with the person who has been assaulted and make sure all evidence is secured. This will include any evidence at the scene.

Photographic evidence of any injuries will assist the investigation and can be recorded by the victim or the officer attending, serious injuries will be photographed by a crime scene investigator.

Putting Victims First The police will update you on progress with the investigation, letting you know of any arrests or suspects being charged. You can agree with the police how often you would like to hear from them about the investigation as part of the statutory scheme called the Victims' Code which underlies West Mercia Police's Putting Victims First initiative. For further information visit https://www.westmercia.police.uk/puttingvictimsfirst

Help and advice guides

The following help and advice sheets are available to download at https://www.westmercia.police.uk/maketherightcall or by clicking the graphics below:

Cyberbullying and online harassment - adult
Cyberbullying and online harassment - adult
Cyberbullying and online harassment - young person
Cyberbullying and online harassment - young person
Hate crime - adult
Hate crime - adult
Hate crime - young person
Hate crime - young person
Assault
Assault
Missing person
Missing person

Alternative languages are available for cyberbullying and online harassment https://www.westmercia.police.uk/article/43934/Alternative-languages

Further support and prevention

Safe and Well Checks

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service want everyone across the West Mercia region to be safe from fire at home and know how to escape safely if a fire starts.

We have learnt that visiting people in their own homes to make sure they have working smoke alarms and a good level of fire safety awareness prevents fires and saves lives. We provide advice to everyone and for the more vulnerable such as the elderly, people living alone and those with reduced mobility both services offer a free of charge Safe and Well Check.

A Safe and Well Check is a home fire safety visit that's tailored to an individual's needs. The visit will provide you with actions and advice to help make your home a safer place and protect you and your family from the risks of fire, it will also provide you with a fire escape plan to follow should the unthinkable happen. We may also fit smoke alarms and specialist equipment if required. A Safe and Well Check will also identify any health and care needs that require signposting to local services to help ensure your safety and wellbeing. All of these services are provided free of charge.

If you require any further information regarding a Safe and Well Check, of if you would like to see if you qualify for a visit, contact us via the details below:

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service

Community Risk Department
Tel: 0800 032 1155
Email: hfsc@hwfire.org.uk

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service

Prevention Department
Tel: 0808 168 9010
Email: homevisit@shropshirefire.gov.uk

Victim Advice Line

We understand that everyone's experience of crime is different. Here in West Mercia we have introduced Victim Advice Line (from 1 April 2019), a service specifically developed to provide emotional and practical support for victims of crime. 
 
The service is free and confidential and is available even if you choose not to report a crime.
 
We want to make things as easy as possible for you. When we speak for the first time, we'll often already know a little about what happened, so you won't need to tell your story again and again. 
We'll carry out a needs and risk assessment so we know exactly what kind of help and support you need.
 
We'll also assign you your own Care Coordinator, who'll be there for you throughout your journey to ensure those needs are met, and that you always have someone to talk to. Your Care Coordinator will put together a package of help and support that's specially tailored to your situation, from relevant advice booklets to contact numbers for counselling and other support services - whatever they feel you might need. 
 
If you'd like them to, they can also refer you on to other specialist services outside of Victim Advice Line. As well as helping you cope and recover, we'll give you tools and techniques to stay strong after you've left us, so you're less likely to be a victim in the future.
 
Victim Advice Line will be there for you as long as you need us. If you want someone to talk to at a later date, you can always contact us and refer yourself back in.
 
For further information please visit the Victim Advice Line website or call the team on: 0800 952 3000
Lines are open Monday-Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 9am to 5pm.

Victim Advice Line (VAL)
Victim Advice Line (VAL)

We Don't Buy Crime logo with blue background We Don't Buy Crime

'We Don't Buy Crime' takes an innovative approach to reducing and disrupting the market for stolen goods and protecting your home and possessions by making them less attractive to the would-be criminal. We want to prevent crime happening in the first place but if the worst should happen, we provide the victim with a tailored and quality service. This includes providing victims of burglary dwelling with a free SmartWater home marking pack, included in their 'We Don't Buy Crime' victim pack.

To find out more visit: https://www.westmercia.police.uk/we-dont-buy-crime

This campaign has had great success in 'We Don't Buy Crime' towns and villages, where every residential property had the opportunity to mark their possessions with SmartWater free of charge.

Please visit https://www.westmercia-pcc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/WDBC-application-briefing.pdf?x19529 to see how you can become part of this and the success achieved so far.

We don't buy crime sticker https://www.westmercia.police.uk/media/4587/We-Dont-Buy-Crime-window-sticker/pdf/Circle_Sticker.pdf

Smartwater Logo SmartWater

How SmartWater works

  • SmartWater has a unique forensic code that, once applied and registered, makes equipment traceable back to their owner.
  • SmartWater is easy to apply and only visible under UV light.
  • Each application is guaranteed to last 5-years.
  • Recognised by criminals - SmartWater THIEVES BEWARE® deterrent signage sends out a powerful warning to thieves.
  • When deployed by police, SmartWater has helped reduce burglary by up to 85%.

Help us to reduce crime in your area Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser windowWhen you purchase SmartWater, please ensure you register your forensic code as per the instructions to ensure your property can be traced back to you.

Thanks to West Mercia Police's WE DON'T BUY CRIME project, you can purchase SmartWater for your home at a special promotional price of £19.95 with no annual fees.

Please visit https://shop.smartwater.com/redeem/ or call 0333 320 7797 and use discount code: WDBCRIME25

Immobilise logo Immobilise

Register your valuables to help reduce property crime and improve the chances of getting them back in the event of loss or theft.

https://www.immobilise.com/home#registration

CrimeStoppers Logo Crimestoppers

An independent charity that gives you the power to speak up to stop crime, 100% anonymously.

Whoever you are, wherever you live, from communities to companies.

Contact Crimestoppers by phone on 0800 555 1111 or online, 24/7, 365 days a year.

https://www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Counter Terrorism Policing Counter Terrorism Policing

Report suspicious behaviour here: https://act.campaign.gov.uk/

You can also report suspicious activity by contacting the police in confidence on 0800 789 321.

Action Fraud Action Fraud

Report online at: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Action Fraud is the UK's National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.