London is a city that speaks for itself, a sprawling capital chock full of landmarks, history and tourist attractions for everyone from 1 to 100. Before the coronavirus pandemic, London was receiving over 21 million visitors a year, with over £2 billion spend through tourism!
However, London is also something of a crime hotspot in the UK, with 60-70,000 crimes recorded each month alone. Tourists are an easy mark for pickpockets, thieves and scammers. This should not dissuade you from visiting the Big Smoke at all, though; keeping safe while travelling around is easy, with several ways you can keep yourself and your belongings safe. Here are three key ways you can stay safe on your London visit.
Keep Your Belongs in Front of You
Pickpocketing is the most common form of tourist-related crime in London, as an abundance of baggage coupled with poor awareness make tourists the perfect mark for a quick pilfer. You can counter this by carrying or wearing any luggage you’re carrying with you on your front. This way, you have eyes on all of your belongings at all times, making it harder for pickpockets to get into your bags or suitcases without being immediately noticed. This is especially handy in transport hubs and on transport such as the Tube, where crowds can amass and disperse quickly.
Choose Safe Transport Options
Transport itself is a hot-button issue for staying safe while navigating London. Just like any other city, areas of London can be more dangerous at night – meaning you should plan ahead to avoid getting stranded later in the evening. Keeping abreast of train times, tube running announcements and bus schedules can make sure you don’t get caught short at any point in your journey, giving you the tools to safely return to your accommodation in ample time. Unlicensed hackney carriages may seem like a niche concern, but can be surprisingly common in the city centre; these unlicensed taxis are unsafe as the identity of their drivers are unverifiable, and they may not be covered by insurance in the event of an accident. As such, it is imperative that, when hailing a taxi, you can verify it is licensed. You can also ask in a shop, or with your accommodation, for a number for a legitimate taxi service.
Make Others Aware of Your Plans
This is an important tip whether you have travelled with friends, or taken a solo trip to London. Make sure family who are not with you on your trip know roughly where you are each day, and communicate with any travel companions if you are intending to strike out alone for a spell. Lone tourists are easier targets, and if something goes wrong with no one knowing where you are, help could be a long time coming. You could update travel companions using your phone’s GPS signal, or simply send a text whenever you’ve visited a new destination.