Newcastle-upon-Tyne, also known as ‘The Toon’, is the most populous city in the North East of England, with an estimated 314,366 people living within it. It features a rich industrial history, prominent universities, a famous annual half-marathon and the distinctive Geordie accent. The Newcastle nightlife is renowned as being one of the best places for partying in the UK, and attracts not only university students but people from around the world to visit the vibrant city by the North Sea.
If you are planning to visit Newcastle this year, whether it be for a weekend break or a longer stay, it’s important to know how you can avoid becoming a victim of crime or ending up in a harmful situation. That’s why we’ve compiled our top tips for staying safe in the city, listing the best ways in which you can guard yourself against potential threats.
Avoid walking alone at night no matter where you are in the city. Stay in well-lit areas, on public footpaths and plan where you’re going and how to get there in advance. Staying with someone you know and trust until you arrive at your hotel or elsewhere will decrease the chances of you being attacked, robbed or of getting lost. If there isn’t anyone available to travel with you, hiring a taxi is also an option. Text or call your friends or a family member where you’re going and when you’ve arrived at your destination, so that no one will worry about where you are.
If the hotel room or apartment that you’re staying in has a safe or locker, make use of it by storing anything of high value in it . As well as placing items in a secure place, you should consider getting contents insurance for your possessions, especially laptops, smartphones, Xbox/PlayStation, bicycle or tablets.
Money belts are effective in that they can be worn underneath your clothing to store money, documents, smartphones or anything else which is valuable to you. If you have a bag or jacket with hidden pockets, these will also be more difficult to access by passers-by, who could pickpocket from your person when you’re unaware.
If you have a smartphone, using a maps application will enable you to plan your journey with step-by-step guidance on how to get to where you need to be and how long it will take you. Knowing in advance how you’ll get around Newcastle will prevent you becoming lost and make you less vulnerable to attackers.
Take a list of emergency contacts in your bag or purse/wallet, so that in the event of an emergency someone can let your family or chosen emergency contacts know if you’re in trouble. Smartphone applications such as SafeZone are useful when you’re traveling alone, and they can warn you of an emergency nearby. It’s also handy to take a small First Aid kit or plasters/antiseptic in your bag, just in case something unexpected happens.
Whether it’s on the bus, train, taxi or tram, staying alert and aware of others who are on board will ensure that your own and other passenger’s safety isn’t at risk. Aim to sit in carriages with more than one person, wait for transport in well-lit areas and if you see anything suspicious report it immediately to the British Transport Police or dial 999.
It’s common sense but, as tempting as it might be to get a lift back to your hotel with someone you’ve just met, don’t. Always pre-book a taxi or find an alternative mode of transport for getting back safely and travel with someone you know well.
Walking with purpose and holding your gaze straight ahead will make you appear more assertive and surer of your whereabouts, which can reduce the chances of you being approached by people with intent to cause harm. Carrying an alarm or spray to use when you’re being attacked or robbed will also help keep you safe.
Registering valuable items, such as your smartphone, tablet or laptop can help you locate them if they are lost or stolen. Strong passwords and PINs will also prevent criminals from easily accessing personal information.
The number of incidents involving drinks being spiked has more than doubled in the last three years, according to statistics. Always keep an eye on your drink and don’t accept any from strangers, no matter how much your friends or the person you’ve just met try to persuade you. You can read more information about spotting the signs of spiked drinks here.
Avoid taking your phone out to browse social media or anything else which isn’t important on the street. Try not to walk or stand too closely near the road. Registering your phone or getting a wrist lasso are also effective ways to protect your device.
Investing in a quality padlock or safety mechanism for your luggage will prevent it from being easily accessed by pickpockets. Most will allow you to personalise an access code.
Even if a cash machine has a plastic shield over the keypad, always use your available hand to withdraw cash and stand very close, so that no one standing behind you or walking past can see it. Never write your PIN anywhere or type it onto a smartphone or computer, destroy all documents which contain credit card details or receipts with a shredder, and never disclose your PIN to anyone.
Even if it’s hot in the daytime, by nightfall you will more than likely feel the North Sea chill. Taking a jacket or jumper for when you’re walking to the bars along the Quayside or on the walk home from the clubs is a wise move.