Police chiefs in Greater Manchester have warned women to take extra care when travelling home after nights out in the city centre, after three women were sexually assaulted having been given a lift by a “bogus” taxi driver.
On each occasion the woman was collected in the city centre in the early hours of the morning, believing she was getting into a genuine taxi, then taken to an isolated place and assaulted.
The attacks took place over a 72-hour period and have prompted a major investigation to work out whether they are linked amidst fears there may be more than three victims, reported the Manchester Evening News.
Detective Sergeant Mark Astbury gave the following advice to women travelling home alone after a night out: “Please ensure you use licensed taxi companies by either pre-booking or going to a designated taxi rank. Stay together on a night out, and never get into an unknown car without checking it is a licensed taxi first. If you are unsure, go to a taxi rank, particularly if you are on your own.”
More: London Uber driver suspended after threatening to slit woman’s throat
Unfortunately, no matter how much of a badass you are, walking around a city centre at 3 a.m is risky. If you do happen to find yourself in that situation keep the following tips in mind to keep yourself as safe as possible.
- Make sure your phone is always charged so you can call for help if you get lost or find yourself in a dangerous situation. On a night out, try to keep your phone in the inside pocket of your jacket or the back pocket of your jeans, just in case your bag gets stolen.
- Store all your emergency contact numbers on speed dial, such as immediate family members and friends who can be contacted in times of distress.
- If there’s a chance you’ll be walking home alone, make sure you know your route. If you end up in an unknown area use the GPS app on your phone. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts unless you know the area well and avoid streets that you know to be particularly dark or unsafe.
- When walking alone at night keep your phone in your hand but don’t talk on it unless absolutely necessary as this can make you an easy target. If you think someone is following you, call a friend or relative and give them a detailed account of where you are and where you’re going. If a car is following you tell your friend the model and registration number. If you feel seriously threatened at any time call the police.
- Keep emergency cash in a secure place on your person as it’s not advisable to stop at a cash machine to withdraw money on your own late at night. If you are approached by someone who uses force or threats to extort money from you don’t hesitate to hand over your purse or bag. Your emergency cash stash will help you get to a safer place.
- If you’re approached by someone who makes you feel threatened immediately shout something like “Leave me alone” or “Stay away,” as loudly as you can. Having pepper spray, a personal alarm or a loud whistle within easy reach will intimidate the aggressor and make him back off.
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