How to Stay Safe now Restrictions are Lifted

As of July 19th, most Covid restrictions will be lifted and this means a return to normal life. However, some would argue that there is no normal after Covid. Although all government restrictions will be lifted, you may want to consider ways to keep yourself safe. Covid-19 will be part of our lives, possibly forever, and it’s up to individuals to make personal decisions to minimise risk. It’s true that all activities will now carry a Covid risk, but it’s no longer beneficial for people to stay in their homes. There are actions you can take to protect yourself and others around you. We will go through the ways you can keep yourself safe and stop the spread of the virus.

 

What’s happening to Restrictions on July 19th?

Most of the legal restrictions surround Covid-19 will be lifted on July 19. According to the government website this is what will be happening on July 19th;

 

  • You will not need to stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with.
  • There will be no limits on the number of people you can meet.
  • It will no longer be necessary for the Government to instruct people to work from home. Employers can start to plan a return to workplaces.
  • Face coverings will no longer be required by law in any setting.
  • There will no longer be limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, civil partnerships, funerals and other life events (including receptions and celebrations). There will be no requirement for table service at life events, or restrictions on singing or dancing.
  • There will no longer be restrictions on group sizes for attending communal worship

 

What do businesses and venues have to do?

All the businesses that have been made to stay closed throughout the pandemic will now be allowed to open. This includes nightclubs, discos and adult entertainment venues. While all capacity limits will be lifted for sports, entertainment and business events. This also means that pubs, cafes and restaurants will no longer have to provide table service and follow social distancing rules. Although there will be no legal reason for venues to provide any Covid protection, they should implement protocols to keep customers safe. Read about Keeping Yourself Safe at Big Events in our previous blog.

So, what can you do to keep yourself and others safe when restrictions lift?

 

Face Coverings

Although you are not legally required to do so, you may want to continue to wear a face covering in public venues. Face coverings help slow the spread of coronavirus by preventing droplets in the air from spreading, a known way that Covid-19 spreads.

 

Use the track and trace app

The reason you use the NHS track and Trace app is because it lets you know if you have been in close contact with anyone that has since tested positive for Covid, regardless of whether you know each other. The app is free to download and the majority of venues, should have a way for you to check in using the app when you arrive.

 

Fresh air and Ventilation

When a person has Covid-19 and they talk, cough or breath, they will release droplets and aerosols that can be inhaled by another person. Fresh are blows these particles away, so sitting near a window or making sure there is sufficient ventilation in an indoor venue will help stop the spread of coronavirus. You can also make use of your extractor fan and leave it running to improve the ventilation in your home when you have guests. Basically, the more fresh air you let into your home the less likely you are to inhale infectious particles.

 

Testing at Home

It’s well known that 1 in 3 people that have Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus without knowing it. Rapid lateral flow testing is available to everyone, for free, so you are able to test twice a week if you want to. The early detection of the virus will enable people to self-isolate quicker, which will slow the spread of the virus.

 

Personal hygiene

Washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser on a regular basis is a good way to reduce your risk of catching coronavirus. The Gov.uk website say that washing or sanitising your hands after the following;

  • after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose
  • before you eat or handle food
  • after coming into contact with surfaces touched by many others, such as handles, handrails and light switches
  • after coming into contact with shared areas such as kitchens and bathrooms
  • when you return home

 

It’s advisable to touch your face as little as possible. Your hands touch a lot of different surfaces during the day and this is where you might pick up Covid, as surfaces can become infected with Covid-19. So,

if you touch an infected surface and then touch your eyes, mouth or nose, you can become infected with the virus. But washing or sanitising your hands after touching a surface will reduce your risk of transferring the infection to yourself.

Covid is also transmitted by coughing and sneezing, so to protect others you need to cover your mouth every time you sneeze or cough. An uncovered sneeze or cough will greatly increase the chance of those around you catching the virus. Government advice on this is;

  • Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze.
  • If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not into your hand.
  • Dispose of tissues into a rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands.

 

No Close Contact

One of the major ways Covid spreads is through close contact with someone who is infected. They spread the virus through; speaking, coughing or sneezing, that could then be inhaled by you. This is why we have all been following social distancing guidelines and but because the government are no longer enforcing these doesn’t mean you have to stop. You might want to consider remaining 2 metres apart, especially if you are spending a prolonged time with them.

 

GETTING THE VACCINE

The most effective way to protect yourself from Covid-19 is getting yourself vaccinated. Everyone over the age of 18 can now get their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. If you haven’t booked your jab yet then go onto the NHS website to book.

 

Living With Covid-19

Even though restrictions are being lifted, that doesn’t mean Covid-19 is gone. The virus is something that we will have to get used t and deal with, much like the flu. We all have a roll in stopping the spread of the Coronavirus and taking step such as the ones we have explained will protect you and those around you.

Commuting Safely to Work

How to Commute Safely to Work

 

Now that restrictions are starting to ease and you may be heading back into the office, you might need to think about keeping yourself safe as you make your way to work. As well as Covid considerations, there are other safety aspects of travelling to work that you need to be aware of. Whether you take public transport to work or drive yourself, there are always risks. We will go through the potential risks of commuting to work and how to be aware and avoid them.

 

Commuting During the Pandemic

 

Public Transport

Obviously using your own private transport during Covid is the safest way to commute, but that isn’t an option for everyone. So lets look at the ways you can keep yourself safe from Covid on public transport.

Avoid touching things– sounds obvious, but using contactless payment options is a great way stop the spread of coronavirus. If you do end up touching a ‘frequently touched’ surface then try to wash or antibac your hands as soon as you can. This is because coronavirus can remain on surfaces such as plastic and metal for a while.

Be aware of your face– on average we touch our faces around 16 times per hour, so if you have contaminated hands, you need to try not to touch for face. This is the same with gloves, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security with gloves, they will also be contaminated if you touch a surface that contains the coronavirus. Its actually safer to not wear gloves and use hand sanitiser regularly.

Don’t fidget– where possible try not to adjust or touch your mask, you risk contaminating it. It’s important that you always wear your mask correctly on public transport, to protect yourself and others.

Maintain social distancing– if possible, try to travel during non-peak hours and always keep at least 1 metre plus from those around you. There should be social distance markers on public transport, so try to follow the guidance.

Improve ventilation– if at all possible open any windows on the bus or train you are on. This is especially true if you are in a car share or taxi as you can’t socially distance when in a car.

 

Walking to Work

While walking to work is one of the safest ways of commuting Covid wise, it does pose some other risks that you need to be prepared for. Unfortunately you are more at risk walking alone if you are a woman, try to employ as many as our tips as you can.

Plan your route– if you haven’t walked to work before then its important you check before you set of the route you will take. If you do need to stop and look at a map or your phone, then make sure you stop where lots of people are.

Let someone know- it’s vital that you let your colleagues know that you are walking to work and what time you are likely to arrive. Exchange phones numbers with a colleague if possible, so you can let them know if there are any issues.

Walk with confidence– try to make eye contact with those you pass by, and keep your head up, this will make you less likely to be an attacker’s target.

Wear the right shoes– this is more than just a comfort thing, its for safety as well. Wear shoes that make it easy to make a quick getaway, if you’ve ever tried to run in heals or flip flops then you know what we mean. Try to wear flats or trainers, you can always change your shoes when you get to the office.

Safe clothing– try to wear clothing that makes you visible, such as bright colours or reflective bands and strips. This is more important in winter when its darker for longer.

Stick to public areas– if at all possible, try to walk where there are lots of people, where you can be seen even if it takes you longer. Taking shortcuts through woodlands or secluded fields puts you at risk.

Be aware of your surroundings- it’s advisable not to wear headphones when walking as it makes it easy for someone to sneak up on you undetected. Same principle if you are staring at your phone while walking, you need to keep your eyes a head and be alert to what’s happening around you.

Traffic safety– you must always walk into the direction of oncoming traffic; this means you will be able to see the traffic coming towards you. It also means a vehicle won’t be able to pull up behind and surprise you.

Extra steps– carry a personal alarm that admits a loud noise when activated. Keep your valuables hidden and finally trust your instincts, if you see someone who looks suspicious then cross the road.

To learn more about walking alone safely then read our blog on keeping yourself safe.

 

Driving

When it comes to commuting, driving to work, is the safest way Covid wise, however you need to make considerations for other road users to keep yourself and them safe. Speed is a major factor in accidents and its pedestrians that you need to watch your speed for. Shockingly children that are hit at above 20 miles an hour will nearly always die, but under 20 will nearly always survive. So, when driving through a built-up area, especially near school, you need to watch your speed.

You also must resist the urge to look at your phone while driving, not only is it illegal, looking at your phone means you are more likely to be in an accident. The best way to avoid temptation is to keep your phone on silent out of arms reach. Some modern cars come with screens and can connect to your phone, but this needs to be done when you are stationery.

 

What to take away…

 

Whether you drive, walk or get public transport when commuting to you must keep yourself safe. This applies to Covid as well as your general safety. Hopefully you have learned some useful tips that will keep yourself on the way to work.

Stadium Security

With big events opening up again with big crowds, it’s important that you stay safe. However, especially in big stadiums, governing bodies also have a duty to keep you safe, not just from Covid. We are going to look through some of the ways you are kept safe at football matches and other large events.

Wembley Stadium

Wembley is one of the biggest stadiums in the UK, it’s used not just for holding football matches but also concerts and other events. So, it has one of the best security processes around, some of which are more obvious than others.

We have the obvious and common place policies;

Bag Checking-

Any bag you take in will be checked. There are no cloakrooms at Wembley Stadium, so you have to keep your bags with you. This means that they don’t allow any bags bigger than a standard rucksack inside.

Screening-

You will also pass through what they call ‘screening arches’. Essentially, it’s like going through the detectors at the airport. This is so they can check nothing dangerous is coming in. There isn’t a risk to anyone going through these, including pregnant women and people with pacemakers.

Drinks-

Wembley stadium have a policy of not letting people in with drinks from home. This is to stop any nasty chemicals potentially being sneaked in this way. If you have a valid medical reason to bring liquids in then this will be allowed.

Then there are those security measures that might not be so obvious;

Counter terrorism-

On any given day at Wembley Stadium there are around 50 on-site security members of staff and a control room that’s monitored 24/7. All staff members are also bag searched on arrival; all vehicle arrivals must be booked in advance. If anyone is to visit Wembley Stadium during non-event days then they are logged in advance and given a temporary ID on arrival that must always be visible. Wembley Stadiums also takes the extra step of having external patrols and liaising with their neighbours to share information on any incidents or potential threats.

Event days-

The security measures ramp up on an event day, meaning there is more on-site staff. Even staff that work at Wembley stadium on non-event days have their ID passes reissued to specific event day passes, meaning no one can sneak in using a stolen ID badge. That’s not the only security measure staff have to go through on an event day. They also need to walk through the screening arches and have their bags checked. Once that has happened their bags are given a unique event day seal. Wembley Stadium works with the Met Police and brings in the K9 unit to sweep the venue and to search any incoming cars. There are also police at the venue to support the existing staff that work at the stadium.

 

Other Stadiums

 

Wembley isn’t the only large stadium in the country; other large venue spaces also need to have safety procedures. No matter the event stadiums must adapt to the needs to any possible threat, large or small. Advancing technology means security firms have more tools at their disposal to protect against threats, but it also means that any perpetrators have more ways to infiltrate. These are some of the techniques stadiums use to protect you.

 

Fully trained security staff

All the technology in the world cannot be equal to well trained staff. Security staff is the first line of defence against threats, they will have many roles in the stadium including; screening the public on entrance and security guards within the stadium. Continuous training off all staff is key to maintaining safety.

 

Modern Security Equipment

It’s not uncommon for large stadiums to use body scanners for all guests on arrival. This is a repercussion of attacks on event spaces over the past few years; they need to stop a person bringing in anything that can cause harm. Social media is a huge player in today’s security field, so some security companies employ a monitor on social media algorithms to keep an eye on any chatter that could be a threat. No stadium has confirmed this, however there has been rumours of facial recognition technology being used. This would scan and detect any known threats and alert security personal to their presence. This would work well especially for a football matches, so that any trouble makers can be stopped before they even get into the venue.

 

Security Zones

When it comes to very large stadiums a good tactic is to zone it off so that dedicated staff and resources can be employed for each zone specifically, this saves things being missed. This also works well if there is an incident during an event, the organisation of the zones can provide safe and effective exit routes as well as strategic entrance points for police and other agencies.

 

Planned evacuation plans

If the worst is to happen and there is an incident, a panicked, stampeding crowd can cause as much damage as the incident itself. After the tragic events of the Hillsborough Disaster, stadiums have strict plans to get spectators out quickly if needed. Each evacuation plan will be unique to the venue, but all staff must be thoroughly briefed and confident on how to follow it through.

 

The Hillsborough Disaster 1989

 

If you are a football fan or not, you will have most likely heard of the Hillsborough Disaster. In 1989, 96 innocent football fans lost their lives after a series of errors led to a surge of fans being sent to overcrowded pens, resulting in a fatal crush.

This terrible incident changed the way that football is watched in the UK. The Taylor Report that was commissioned after the disaster stated that all of the teams in the top two divisions of the English game had to play in all seated stadiums. Before this up to 30,000 fans were squeezed into single terraces behind the goal at Manchester United’s Stretford End, the Holte End at Aston Villa’s home ground and, of course the famous Kop end at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium. Another contributing factor to the disaster was the use of metal fences, this was to stop pitch invasions however these made it impossible for fans to escape the crush, these have now been removed from all UK stadiums. Stricter rules on capacity have now been enforced and emergency exit strategies are in place.

The police and other security services designed and enforced security rules with the mindset of preventing hooliganism. Hence the huge metal fences and fans were separated from each other to prevent fights, by using cages known as pens. Woman and children were actively discouraged from going to matches because of these measures, which tells you a lot about the conditions of the stands. After Hillsborough the mindset changed, stadiums are now safety led, meaning the number one priority is fan safety.

 

What to take away…

So, if you are someone who visits stadiums regularly, then you can be happy in the knowledge that there are procedures in place to keep you and others safe. Always best to bare this in mind when you are standing in the long security line to enter the event. However, it is up to you to keep yourself safe. Also, it’s important to respect those around you, football matches can be highly emotional environments, but everyone is there with the same goal, to have a good time, so keep yourself in check when around other fans.

 

 

How Hillsborough disaster altered English soccer

5 Important Security Measures Taken By Stadiums

https://essma.eu/news/article/counter-terrorism-measures-at-wembley

Lockdown Restrictions Lifted- How to Stay Safe

Now that the government have lifted some of the stricter lockdown rules, life is closer to returning to normality. As you start to venture out and about again, it’s important that you keep yourself safe, not just from the Coronavirus but from other risks as well.

Going to the pub

What the government says;

Unlike in last years lockdown, you do not need to order a substantial meal to get an alcoholic drink (so no more ordering scotch eggs for you and your friends!). Plus, you don’t have to worry about the 10pm curfew, that’s gone to!

However there are a few things you need to be aware of:

  • You can only order food and drinks at the table you are sat at.
  • You must follow the ‘rule of six’ that has been set out by the government
  • Every person in the group must check in using the NHS test and trace service.
  • When not sat at your table you must wear your facemask, for example when going to the toilet.
  • You must observe social distancing

 

However just protecting yourself from Covid-19 when out drinking is not enough. Drinking out and about comes with its own risks.

 

Make sure you know how you are getting home

 

  • Pre book a taxi, book a taxi for a certain time, so you know how and when you will be getting home. Agree on a price when you book it, so you know you’ll have enough money on you to get home safe. For more info on taxi safety- read our blog.
  • Have someone from your household or bubble pick you up. This is one of the safest options for Covid and for personal safety.
  • If you are walking home then don’t walk home alone, no matter your gender make sure you plan to walk home in a group or at least with one other person. Make sure to stick to pavements and well-lit streets.
  • If you plan on getting public transport then make sure you are confident on what time and where you are getting your bus from. Also make sure that you have enough money for the ticket.
  • It goes without saying DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

 

Stay Safe while at the Pub

  • Never leave your drink unattended, it’s too easy for someone to slip something in there if you go to the bathroom. Either leave your drink with a trusted friend, or buy a fresh one if you’ve had no choice but to leave your drink unattended.
  • Don’t drink too much. We don’t want to be negative, but drinking too much alcohol can put you at risk of accidents and illness. Stay within your limits.
  • Try to eat before you drink alcohol, food will help your body absorb the alcohol more slowly.
  • Be aware that if you want to have a drink to ease any anxiety about going out, then drinking too much alcohol can actually make your anxiety worse.

 

Have respect for those around you

It’s important to remember that everyone has been in lockdown for a long time and everyone is excited about going to the pub again. It could be that some people are still a little anxious of being in crowds, so be considerate of social distance and other people’s feelings.

 

Having Guests in your Garden

 

What the lockdown restrictions are;

  • You can meet outdoors in a group of 6 from any number of households, unfortunately children of all ages count towards the limit of 6.
  • However, if only two households are meeting, the group can be any number. This is to allow large households to meet.
  • You can meet in private gardens as well as outdoor public places.
  • You can meet (following the rule of 6) at food and drink establishments that offer outside seating.
  • You are allowed to walk through someone’s home to get to the back garden, but you must wear a face covering while walking indoors.
  • You are allowed to use the bathroom in someone’s home, but again, you must wear a face covering while indoors.
  • You must always maintain a 2-metre distance, even when meeting outside, from those who are not in your household or bubbles.

 

It’s likely that you are going to be spending more time outdoors and in your garden, so you need to remember to keep yourself safe while doing so.

 

Outdoor Safety

  • If you will be sitting in your garden for long periods of time, you need to make sure your front door is locked. This is especially true if you cannot see your front door from the garden. Burglars know that people will be in their gardens more, so may take the opportunity to slip in unnoticed. This can be especially bad if you leave your car keys by the front door, as all a person would have to do is reach in and take them.
  • Make sure you don’t spend too much time in the sun. Stick to the shade and always wear sun cream. Over exposure to the sun can result in sun stroke, which causes headaches, vomiting, dizziness and rapid breathing and pulse. Sun burn can also lead to skin cancer, so it’s important that you don’t let yourself burn.
  • Drink plenty of water- sitting in the sun for a long time can cause dehydration. Make sure you are drinking enough water so you stay hydrated.

 

Stay safe while shopping

Now that non-essential shops have reopened, you may be inclined to indulge in some retail therapy. While going shopping it’s important to protect yourself from covid-19.

  • Always wear your face covering. It’s the rule in all shops that you wear a facemask upon entering the shop. So it’s essential that you do unless you have a medical exemption.
  • Wash or sanitise your hands on entry and exit this keeps you and other shoppers safe. Most shops will have sanitising stations for you to use, but to be safe try and carry your own hand sanitiser around with you.
  • Sanitise your trolley or basket. Shops should be cleaning these after customer use them, but to be safe you should try and wipe down anything you use.
  • This might be hard to do in a clothes shop, but try not to touch anything you aren’t going to buy. This not only stops you from picking up germs, but also stops you spreading any as well.

 

 

So, while its great news that some lockdown restrictions have lifted, this does not mean that the coronavirus has gone away. You still need to be mindful of lockdown guidelines and other safety measures that keep you and others safe.

To find out more details about lockdown guidelines, go to gov.uk 

Amazon Echo vs Google Nest

If you are looking to buy a smart speaker for your home, then the best one for you will depend on your needs. However, there are two huge players in the market that will cover most people’s needs: Amazon Echo range and Google Home. Let’s face it, with Amazon and Google, you know you’re getting a top of the range product, no matter which one you go for. However, picking between the two might be harder than you think. Even within the Amazon and Google ranges, there are different versions and devices you can choose from. With both the voice assistants on these devices becoming more useful and smarter with every update, either device with be able to answer your questions, set timers, set your alarms and much more, with just your voice.

Putting the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices next to each other, they do have similar features and designs; however, there are some differences that you need to consider before choosing which is best for you. Not forgetting that once you have chosen between Amazon and Google, you will then need to choose which device within the ranges will suit your home best.

 

Voice Assistants

Both Echo’s and Google homes have ‘wake’ words to activate the voice control, for Echo’s you simply say ‘Alexa’ and for Google home ‘Hey Google’. Both devices let you control other smart home appliances such as lights or thermostats with voice control.

Alexa seems to be easier to use if you only use the set phrases Alexa likes, but Google assistant is less fussy, you can shout lots of combinations of words at it and its more likely to understand you compared to Alexa. But learning Alex’s set phrases means you can find out more info and uses a wider selection of ‘skills’ with third party apps. Both devices work with big brands such as Phillips and Hive, but you get slightly more integration with the Amazon Alexa.

 

Design  

When it comes to the design of the speakers, we will compare the latest models of each device which are the Google Nest Audio and the 4th generation Amazon Echo.  

The new Echo is spherical in design and comes in a choice of colours; charcoal, twilight blue and glacier white. It also features a LED light ring at the base that adds extra visibility.  

The Google nest has an oblong design and comes in only two colours; charcoal and chalk white. Its rounded corners and 4 led lights do give a sophisticated feel. 

If being good to the environment is high on your list of priorities then both devices have become greener. The Nest Audio is made from 70% recycled material and the Echo fabric and metal components are made from 100% recycled material.  

 

Sound Quality

Amazon have been on a mission to make the sound quality in the Echo better, and in this latest version they have added a 3.0-inch woofer, duel firing tweeter and Dolby processing, so you are getting some pretty decent sound quality with all that. In the Google Nest Audio, does also have a 3.0 woofer; however it doesn’t feature an audio jack so you can’t connect it to speakers.

You can use both of the devices for hands-free calls and play music through a variety of music apps, such as Spotify on both and Google play music and Amazon Music.

 

Price

There is a variety of devices to choose from in both the Amazon and Google range. The cheapest you can get a Google device is around £29, which is for the Google nest mini. Whereas the cheapest Amazon device you can buy is the Echo Dot for around £49.99. If you are looking at the other end of the price scale, Amazon now offer the Echo Show 10, which features a smart display, and you can find that for around £239.99. The most expensive Google speaker is the Nest Hub Max, which also offers a 10-inch display, for around £189.

The prices of the Amazon Echo and the Google Home Nests, are quite similar, however Google probably comes out as the cheapest overall.

 

The Google Range

Google Nest Audio- £89.99

A speaker that is 175mm tall and 124mm wide, features 3 microphones, comes in two colours. No display or touchscreen.

Google Nest Mini- £49

The smallest Google speaker at 50.8mm tall and 101.6mm wide, voice controlled and features better sound quality with 40% stronger bass. No display or touchscreen and it comes in 4 colours.

Google Nest Hub- £49.99

This is more than a speaker, it features a 7-inch touchscreen display and is 118mm high and 178mm wide. It has 2 microphones and comes in a choice of four colours.

Google Nest Hub Max- £219

Google’s largest home hub, it stands 182.55 mm high and 250.1mm wide, this is good device to make video calls and for leaving video messages. It features a 10-inch touchscreen display, 2 microphones and comes in a choice of 2 colours.

 

The Amazon Echo Range

Amazon Echo Dot- £39.99

Amazons smallest home product at 40.3mm by 90.9mm this is one of the cheapest ways to get Alexa in your home. It uses wi-fi and Bluetooth to connect has a 3.5mm stereo audio output so you can use an external speaker.

All-new Echo- £89.99

The Echo is bigger than the dot, standing at 133 x 144 mm round. It features 76.2 mm neodymium woofer 20 mm tweeters. It also connects using wi-fi and Bluetooth and also features 3.5mm stereo audio output.

Amazon Echo Studio- £189.99

This beast is Amazon’s biggest and most expensive home device being 206 x 175mm. It features three 51 mm midrange speakers, one 25 mm tweeter, one 133 mm woofer with bass aperture to maximise bass output.

Amazon Echo Show- £64.99

Amazon touch screen device has an 8-inch display and 52 mm neodymium speakers with passive bass radiator. Like the other devices, the Show uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect, but also has the 1 MP camera with built-in cover.

 

 

https://www.radiotimes.com/technology/google-home-vs-amazon-alexa/
https://uk.pcmag.com/speakers/85210/amazon-echo-vs-google-home-which-voice-controlled-speaker-is-right-for-you
https://www.whathifi.com/reviews/google-nest-audio

How to Take a Taxi Safely

No matter if you are male or female, young or old, it’s important you keep yourself safe when getting a taxi. Getting a taxi is generally considered safer than walking home alone, or getting public transport, however there are still risks. We will go through how to get a taxi safely and how to make a complaint about a taxi driver if needed.

Where possible…pre book 

 Pre booking a taxi, or using a private hire car is the safest way to use taxi services. This is because there will be an official log of your journey and pre booked taxis are often tracked.  

There are two different types of vehicles, a Private Hire car and a Taxi. 

Private Hire- A car that must be booked through a licensed operator   

Taxi– A car that can be hired immediately from a taxi rank or hailed down on the street 

 

Make sure your taxi, or private hire is legal

Using an illegal taxi is one of the most dangerous things you can do. These cars are unlicensed, which means they have not been subject to the rigours checks that are needed to gain a licence. The drivers also haven’t had any vetting, such as a DBS or medical check. An illegal taxi is classed as a vehicle with no taxi licence that charges over 45p per mile. There is a trend for people to advertise their lift services on Facebook, this is also illegal and unsafe.

 

How to make sure a taxi is licensed  

 

  1. A licensed vehicle will normally display a licence plate on the front or rear of the vehicle. The plate will include the licensing authority, licence number & the vehicle registration number 
  2. A licensed driver will wear or have on display an identity badge. The badge will include the licensing authority and driver licence number. 
  3. If you can’t see either ASK. 

 

Quick safety tips

  • Make sure that you’ve got enough money aside for your journey home.
  • Make sure it’s the taxi you booked – before getting into a car that appears to be yours ask the driver the name and destination he has been given to confirm that he is your driver.
  • If a car stops without you flagging it down and claims to be a taxi – DON’T GET IN– taxi drivers are only supposed to stop when hailed.
  • Always sit in the back, directly behind the driver if possible, don’t sit in the front next to the driver – don’t worry about appearing unfriendly
  • If chatting to the driver, keep to general topics and don’t give them any personal information about yourself.

 

How to make a complaint About a Taxi

You can take all the safety precautions you like, but there can be some things out of your control. If you are a victim of a crime while a passenger of a taxi then you must call the police. However, if you feel that something happened in the taxi that you are unhappy with that might not be a crime; you are still well within your rights to complain.

There are two options for you when it comes to complaining. If you are using a private hire car then most complaints can be taken up with the operator, it’s required that a licensed operator has a complaints policy and this should be followed. Your complaints can be escalated to the council if you are not satisfied with the result. If you are using a taxi that you have flagged down and they don’t have an operator then all complaints will need to be made directly to the council.

We spoke to a licensing officer within a local authority and they gave us the following guidelines;

Things that warrant a complaint to the council:

  • A driving concern – if the driver was acting or driving erratically or in a way that you feel is unsafe, it’s important to raise this with the local authority.
  • Lewd behaviour – if you feel the taxi driver acted in an inappropriate manor, such as talking in a sexual way or making suggestive comments. This would be an urgent incident to bring up with a licensing officer.
  • Mechanical concerns – if you feel the car is in a state of disrepair or has a major fault, then this could pose a danger to other road users and passengers.
  • Overcharged (metered taxi) – if the taxi you take has a meter installed and you were overcharged then you are within your rights to report this.
  • Not satisfied with the response from operator – if you have raised your concern with an operator and you feel it has not been investigated fully or you have not been taken seriously, then you can escalate it to the council.

 

Things that warrant a complaint to the operator;

  • Running late – if the taxi you booked was late, then you can inform the operator. This might be annoying, but doesn’t warrant a call to the council.
  • Not helping with luggage – another issue that doesn’t go against licensing policy and can be taken up with the operator.
  • Untidy taxi- if you feel the car you had was particularly untidy or smelled bad, it’s worth mentioning to the operator.
  • Being over charged (non-metered taxi) – if you have agreed a price in advanced that isn’t stuck to, this needs to be discussed with the operator.

 

While in the taxi if you want to make a complaint then you should; make a note of the drivers badge number, make a note of the vehicle plate number, note the time, date and location. This will help the licensing officer to identify the operator and driver, so they can be investigated.

Duty of Care

It is a taxi drivers right to ask you to leave their vehicle for any reason. However, they do have a duty of care to not leave you unsafe. They are required to direct you to another form of transport or a safe place to shelter. If you feel that you were left in an unsafe situation by a driver then you can complain to the operator or local authority. It’s important to note that a taxi driver cannot refuse your custom on the basis of journey length.

 

Overall, getting a taxi is a safe way to get around. But it’s important to know how to keep yourself safe when using them. For more information on how to keep yourself safe when walking alone then read our blog Staying Safe While Walking Alone.

 

 

Covid-19 Scams

Scams have always been the most common type of crime in the UK and in this time of fear and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, scams have increased 400% (according to the City of London Police). Action Fraud has reported that there have been 105 reports of covid 19 scams with a total loss of nearly £970,000.

You need to stay alert and aware that scammers are using the covid-19 pandemic to their advantage. They will use fraudulent emails, phone calls, text messages, whatsapp messages and social media to try and scam you. Things to keep an eye out for are any of these that contain information on;

  1. Vaccines or cures
  2. Testing kits
  3. Overpriced goods
  4. People asking for charity donations
  5. Bogus emails claiming to be from the government

 

Coronavirus email and text phishing scams

Phishing emails and smishing text messages are used to con someone into giving out login details. One scam involves criminals claiming to be from the World Health Organisation, they encourage you to click the link, promising information on how to stay safe. It will then encourage you to enter your email and password and boom, they’ve got your details. The fake website might look legitimate, but you should NEVER enter your email and password to a link that has been sent to you out of the blue. There are a few similar scams floating around that claim to be from different health organisations that want to trick you into giving out confidential information.

You also need to look out for the following covid-19 related scams;

Fake lockdown fines– the rules of lockdown may not be clear to everyone, so you might be at risk for falling for this one. The scam involves you receiving a text message from the ‘government’ saying your movements have been tracked via your phone and you have now received a fine. The message will include a threat of more severe penalties if you don’t pay.

 

HMRC Goodwill Payment– the MET police has put a warning out about this particular scam. This scam is trying to steal your bank details; you will receive a message that says something along the lines of ‘As part of the NHS promise to battle the COV-19 virus, HMRC has issued a payment of £258 as a goodwill payment’. This is fake.

 

Fake council tax reductions- this one is clever because it uses government branding to try to convince you it’s legit. The email will offer you a coronavirus related council tax rebate, for which you will have to submit your banking details. Again, never give out your bank details to an untrusted source.

 

Free School Meals– there has been a lot in the press about free school meals when the schools were closed. This scam is, again, trying to steal your bank details. You will receive an email telling you that you are entailed to free school meals and they will encourage you to hand over your details so they can ‘support you’.

 

The Vaccine Scam- the email will try and convince you to give up your bank details by using NHS colours and signage. The email will ask you to click on a link to accept or decline your invitation for you covid 19 vaccine. If you click to accept, then it will then ask for your personal details and bank information.

 

A quote from the Action Fraud website;

“You will never get an email, text message or phone call from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) which:

– tells you about a tax rebate or penalty

– asks for your personal or payment information

You can report suspicious HMRC emails by forwarding them to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk. You can report suspicious HMRC text messages by forwarding the message to 60599 – you’ll be charged at your standard network rate.”

 

 

Coronavirus scams – how to spot them and stop them

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/warning-criminals-continue-to-take-advantage-of-coronavirus-vaccine-roll-out-as-phishing-email-reports-soar