Has Anyone Seen My Bag?

Issue 21

How often do you think to yourself ‘It will never happen to me'? The safety of travelling in the UK is perhaps something domestic travellers take for granted, with only major incidents gaining any substantial media coverage we tend to forget about the numerous other risks that may be faced.

According to British Transport Police statistics from 2015-2016 there were a total of 48,718 recorded crimes within the rail network of Scotland, England and Wales. This included 1,952 sexual offences of which 1,893 were against women, 12,098 passenger thefts and 11,097 incidents of violence including murder, serious assault and rather scarily 23 related to firearms and explosives!

Bringing this closer to home over 7000 of the total crimes were committed in C Division Pennine covering the North East and North West counties of England. 1,546 were violent crimes up 17.2% from the previous reporting year. There was also 174 sexual offences which to put some context on it is almost one incident every other day. Theft however has gone down to 1,436 incidents (including robbery) which doesn’t leave a warm fuzzy feeling when you consider that’s still almost 4 incidents a day. In comparison to other regions only London and the South East has higher statistics with C Division Pennine having the highest for public order and drug offences, higher in comparison to almost everywhere else in the country.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, taking the figures aside and applying some statistical maths the figures are surprisingly upbeat! If you compare the total population against these figures you only have a 1 in 20 million chance of being a victim of a crime, compared to the chances of winning the National Lottery (1 in 14 million) means the chances of being a victim are low. It should be noted though this is only a snap shot of available data on the rail networks, looking at a broader context to include air and road travel the statistic would look slightly different. Rather than focusing on percentages the question we should really ask is ‘how do I avoid being a victim of crime when travelling’?

How you present yourself is a key way to protect from being targeted, avoid wearing your wealth and try to dress down in such a way as to avoid displaying expensive brand names unnecessarily, whilst we want to feel good and project an image of success to clients looking like your ‘rich’ can bring unwarranted attention. Be aware of the people around you, who is sat next to you? Does the person from the coffee shop sit near or next to you on the train? Is anyone taking a particular amount of attention in you, especially if strangers strike up a conversation, it’s surprising what people will reveal with a little prompting! Be mindful of phone calls and discussing business with colleagues and strangers, a seemingly innocent conversation can reveal an extraordinary amount of information, as the old saying goes ‘loose lips sinks ships’! This leads me onto laptops and mobile phones, protect your data and IP, screens are easily viewed, check who is sat behind or next to you, can they see your screen easily? Do not have push notifications on your mobile, they are easily read and savvy individuals can obtain personal and bank details just by a quick photo.

For all the neuroticism ask yourself how much distress and inconvenience would it cause if you suddenly discovered your laptop or phone with your entire life on missing, or the prized luggage containing your Louboutin’s, passport and house keys gone? Could these things easily be replaced and are you confident they couldn’t be used to infiltrate your life at further cost? Security is not a dirty word and rather than think ‘it will never happen to me’ adopt a ‘it can’t happen to me’ approach.

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