Safety tips for navigating Leicester at night

By Kira Gibson

Last week I went out for a walk to Tesco at about 11pm at night and was approached by several people, unfortunately all of them men, asking me to do drugs with them, or harassing me about my appearance and demanding I get my kit off for them.

It made me feel so unsafe in the city I have grown to love and feeling like I shouldn’t leave my flat after the moment it turns dark because I live alone, and don’t have people to go meet up with to be safe after dark.

I didn’t know who to turn to, messaging my best friend who lives 60 miles away from me to make myself feel better about everything. But even if something had happened and I wasn’t able to get away from those harassing me, my friends wouldn’t have been able to help much as they were all far away from me.

I’ve decided to write a list of tips to help people with navigating Leicester at night, should they get approached by anyone and begin to feel unsafe, where to go and who to reach out to.

Stay in well-lit areas and on main roads.

It might sound like I’m just stating the obvious here, but if you stay in a well-lit area or on a main road, it’s easier for people to see you and easier to be found if you get into trouble.

Carry hairspray or deodorant in an easy to reach place.

Self-defence spray is expensive and I have yet to come across any in a supermarket or other mainstream shop. But a can of hairspray or deodorant can work as a cheap way to spray someone in the face and give you enough time to run away should you get attacked.

DMU campus at night [Photography by Kira Gibson]

Carry your keys in your pocket or an easy to reach place.

This little tip most girls already know, but if you don’t, carry your keys in an easy to reach place so you can grab them if needs be if you get approached or attacked and use them as a defence weapon. Only use this if it’s 100 per cent necessary though as you don’t want to go over the top and seriously injure someone, or be accused of assault when you’re only using self-defence.

Be on the phone to someone if you begin to feel unsafe.

This won’t always help but being on the phone to someone if you feel unsafe can be an easy way to tell someone exactly where you are and feel a bit better talking to someone if you’re alone.

Don’t be afraid to just ignore them.

Just ignore the people who approach you. Just walk away. Say no.

Go home if you’re close by and feel scared or worried.

It’s okay to just ditch your plans and go home if you’re scared.

If you’re in real trouble being followed or harassed, call the police.

Don’t be afraid to use that power to call the police if you feel unsafe in the city you live in.

Buy a rape whistle or alarm for your keys.

I bought mine years ago, but you can have a rape whistle or alarm on your keys or as a keyring attached to your bag. They come in all shapes and sizes, some as teddy bear keyrings or dolphins, and others can be big and bulky. They’re very loud and very useful to have with you when you go out after dark if you’re scared.

Take a self-defence class.

There are plenty of self-defence classes out there willing to teach you ways to deal with others harassing you and how to handle if you get attacked by anyone.

If you aren’t being left alone and feel you need someone instantly, call 999 and ask for the police. If you feel you can cope for a little while and it’s not urgent, please call 101 and ask for help. But don’t be afraid to use any of the tips I’ve suggested if you are alone and can’t meet up with anyone.

Stay safe out there.