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It will soon be that time of year where we all emerge from our Christmas food comas and start to prepare for the New Year. The start of a new year can be a great time with plenty of parties and events to enjoy but it’s also worth considering how to look after yourself. Unfortunately, students are one of the highest at-risk groups of crime in the country. However, there are many ways you can improve your chances of staying safe and keeping your possessions. Here is some advice in order to give you the best chance of having a stress-free start to 2016.

If you are going on a night out make sure that you:

Avoid being on your own. Always leave bars and clubs with colleagues or friends and keep track of everyone you came out with.

Make sure you know your limits. Ensure that you have eaten a large meal beforehand and have the occasional glass of water between alcoholic drinks.

Never leave your drink unattended. If someone offers to buy you a drink, go to the bar with him or her.

When you have left your house or flat empty (especially at night), make sure you:

Do not leave your house keys under a flower pot or doormat. Criminals are very aware of this method and will often check in the first instance.

Be sure to keep valuable items out of sight, away from doors or windows, and of course ensure all your rooms are locked.

Only get into a taxi you know is real – it will always have a plate on the outside showing the local authority license number.

According to the Daily Echo there have been over 1000 incidents of street-level crime and anti-social behaviour in October 2015 in Southampton. Violent and sexual offences are the second most prevalent type of crime, beaten only by anti-social behaviour incidents. Therefore it is important to keep safe when walking through dark areas, as there is a case of assault almost every week. This is especially true in parks, many which are still notoriously dark. Hoglands park, opposite several student halls, is even referred to as “rape park” by many of the local students. Although there is progress taking place to address this issue such as plans to increase visibility by adding more lights, it is always worth considering alternate routes and ensuring you never walk through these potentially dangerous areas alone. It may also be worth investing in a personal safety alarm, many of which can be bought for under £5 online.

The local Hampshire police advise that you “familiarise yourself with your local area and plan routes that gave places of safety such as a friends house, or a shop.” Additionally, if you are ever “worried about the security to your property tell the landlord”. More information can be found here: http://www.hampshire.police.uk/internet/advice-and-information/general/student-crime-prevention-advice

It is also highly recommended to register your stuff for free on www.immobilise.com. This will drastically increase the chances of police returning any recovered property to the right owner.

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