As big cities go, London is a pretty safe place, especially in the inner city areas. There is little gun crime, and more publicity is attached to knife crime (generally gangs of teenage boys fighting turf wars.) If you remain level-headed, sober and aware of your surroundings, you should enjoy a safe stay in London. However, there is a terrorist threat in London. This threat began at the same time as the ICLC opened in August 1972, but its character has changed over the years. If you travel around Europe, just be mindful that you will stick out more on the continent (backpack, language, clothing, etc.)
CROSSING STREETS SAFELY
- Remain alert when crossing streets; use crosswalks, zebra crossings, traffic lights, etc.
- Don’t cross the road just because the person in front of you does; take responsibility for your own road safety.
- Remember, traffic flows in the opposite direction in the UK. In central London there are lots of road markings in strategic places saying ‘look left’ or ‘look right.’ These warnings are less common outside the central city (internships, theatre-going, football games, flat hunt).
- Traveling to Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam (and other various locations) for a weekend? Be careful, the traffic will be approaching from a different direction.
We do not recommend that our students drink alcohol, but if you are going to drink, remember the following:
- You are most at risk when alcohol is involved, so remain alert to your surroundings.
- Don’t leave your drinks unattended; don’t accept drinks from strangers; don’t leave a friend alone in a club; do not buy drinks for a friend who has reached their limit.
Drugs are illegal! (i) Possession, (ii) Use, (iii) Selling, and (iv) Importing, all carry fines or prison sentences and may lead to removal from the programme and deportation.
- USING THE UNDERGROUND: stay behind the yellow lines on station platforms; don’t mess around on platforms.
- NIGHT BUS: do not be loud and raucous; be very careful of others who might be doing something similar. It’s best to keep a low profile.
- BORIS BIKES: If you rent a ‘Boris bike’ obey traffic laws; get a helmet.
- TAXIS: Use only licensed ‘black cabs’ or cabs booked at a local ‘mini cab’ office; do not get into a vehicle that claims to be a taxi, especially vehicles that cruise the west end clubs in the wee hours of the morning. Men and women have been sexually assaulted in these cars.
- Be sure to use well lit streets, travel in 2s or 3s.
- Regularly check to make sure that your door and window locks are fastened;
- There is more risk involved in ground floor or in basement flats
- Before renting, ask landlords for gas safety certificates
- Don’t invite people in if you’ve just met them and/or your flatmates are uncomfortable.
- Flaunting wealth makes you more likely to attract the wrong kind of attention.
- If you experience any anti-American sentiments, don’t overreact; remove yourself from the situation.
Pickpockets work in central London and are attracted to crowded areas like rush hour underground trains, tourist areas, etc. Remember the following tips to avoid being a target and consider purchasing insurance for your valuables:
- Don’t be conspicuous ‘tourist.’
- Don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket and don’t keep valuables in an unsecured zip pocket of your backpack. Consider carrying your laptop in an ordinary bag rather than something that is obviously a laptop case.
- Wear your bag across your chest and don’t leave it on a table or chair or adjacent floor in pub or restaurant.
- Be very cautious when using phones, iPod etc. in public areas as they can be snatched.
- If threatened by a mugger, hand over your property, alert the police, and get a crime number for insurance.
- You may use the college safe and use lockers when staying in hostels.
- Watch out for scams, like people distracting you while entering your PIN at ATMs.
Since August 2014, the UK terror alert has been classified as ‘Severe’; the highest level is ‘Critical’.
- Remain alert, not alarmed, and practice vigilance.
- In the event of a terrorist attack, follow the advice of the police: 'GO IN, STAY IN, TUNE IN’ and contact the London Centre and your family members as soon as possible.
- If you do find yourself caught up in adverse activity, the civil authorities’ advice under ‘stay safe’ principles is: Run, Hide, Tell.
- Check for important information on official government websites and the local US Embassy website.
REGISTER YOUR TRAVEL PLANS
If you are planning to travel, it is imperative to register your travel in the online Terra Dotta system.