29 Most Common Tourist Scams in UK

Safety at England, Scotland, Wales, London, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Bath
Note: If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. World Nomads Travel Insurance, backed by Lonely Planet & National Geographic, is one we recommend. Check it out before your adventure.

 

London

London

 

Rich in tradition, complex in culture and endlessly diverse, the UK and London are one of the most visited countries and cities in the world.

The amazing variety of gastronomic delights, iconic sights, rugged coastline, gold sand beaches, pretty small towns, fascinating history, heritage and many more are bound to delight.

However, having attracted so many tourists around the world, the number of tourist targeted scams and level of petty crime are high, similar to the major cities of Europe.

So read on to learn how to protect yourself here!

 

 

A. TOURIST ACTIVITIES

1. Street pickpockets

 

How it works:

The pickpocket situation here is not as bad as in Spain or France, but it is still essential to stay alert, especially at touristy areas such as:

  • Streets: Oxford street, Trafalger Square, Leicester square.
  • Tourist attractions: Buckingham palace, London Eye, Tower Bridge.
  • Markets: Camden Market.
  • Scotland: major cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen but cases are rare.

These thieves work in gangs, and will hang around to spot anyone carrying an expensive or neglected phone / jewelry / valuable / bag and where it is stored.

Once they mark a target, they will surround you and then work like this:

  • One keeps a lookout and blocks passer-bys from seeing the scene.
  • Another blocks, pushes or distracts you (e.g. ask you an innocent question / survey / drop something and ask you about it).
  • A third steals your valuable / slashes your bag and then passes it on.
  • The last hides the loot under a jacket / coat / newspaper and then escapes.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

Make it impossible for thieves to steal from you with these methods:

  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead of the actual one.
  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables in a money belt / hidden pouch, large valuables in a slash-resistant and lockable anti-theft bag.
  • Leave most valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe, secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) which covers loss of valuables.

 

2. Street performers set-up

 

How it works:

Another variation of street pickpockets is that of the street performers set-up.

You might find a scammer performing a show on the streets or simply being a motionless “human statue” (not all are scams).

While you are distracted, the accomplice will move in for the steal.

A slightly different variation is specifically of musicians performing on the streets and selling CDs.

They sell CDs so as to see where you keep your valuables at should you choose to buy one. Once targeted, the musicians will move in to steal your valuables.

 

What to do:

Stay away from these street performers, as some are elaborate set-ups for pickpockets to strike.

Note that although some may not be set-ups, but because they attract tourists, it can be an easy spot for pickpockets to strike.

Thus, we highly recommend using an anti-theft bag or a money belt or hidden pouch to make it almost impossible for these thieves to steal from you.

 

3. Shell game

 

How it works:

Also known as the Trilero / three pea / shell game (e.g. in HungaryGermany), this game involves shuffling of three cups and a ball.

You have to guess which cup contains the ball at the final shuffle. Guess correctly and you can double your money.

The scam is perpetrated by a group of scammers – one dealer, two to three in the crowd acting as onlookers, one playing the game and one on the lookout for the police.

This game seems easy but it is impossible to win, as the dealer uses a sleight of hand trick to take the ball out of the cups and into his hand. He will then put the ball back into whichever cup you did not choose.

If you were to see anyone winning, that is the accomplice, to tempt tourists into thinking that it is easy to win.

Watch out for those accomplices acting as onlookers, as they will pressure you into playing or intimidate you into staying. Some may even steal your valuables when you are distracted.

 

What to do:

Give this set up a wide berth – it’s impossible to win.

 

4. Photo taking set-up

Taking photos

Taking photos. Source: Wikimedia – Daniel Hard

 

How it works:

Scammer #1 offers to help you take a photo. While you are distracted, scammer #2 comes along to steal your valuables.

But wait, it gets better. Should you realize that you have just been robbed, scammer #1 will offer to help call the police and the bank, and ask you for your credit card details.

Scammer #1 then calls the police, who is actually another accomplice..

 

What to do:

It is safer to solicit help than to accept unsolicited help, in this case, for photo taking.

And as mentioned earlier, arm yourself with a money belt or hidden pouch and an anti-theft bag. This way you will never become a victim of a thief.

 

5. Invalid theatre tickets

Theatre ticket

Theatre ticket. Source: dailymail.co.uk

 

How it works:

There are ticket touts outside theatres such as the West End theatres or concert grounds who sell tickets with a value that is lower than advertised and even fake tickets.

For instance, one common trick that scammers use is to print multiple copies of one e-ticket and sell it to unknowing victims.

If you are lucky to be the first to use that ticket, you can gain entry into the theatre. Else, you will be flagged and blocked at the entrance.

 

What to do:

Buy only at the official counters.

Alternatively, you can get them from legitimate tour and activities platforms such as:

  • TourRadar: all the best multi-day tours by established names like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Trafalgar, etc can be found here with best price guarantee.
  • GetYourGuide: best day tours platform in Europe – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.

 

6. Fake charity collectors

Street of London

Street of London

 

How it works:

You will find scammers posing as students going around seeking donations for a sham charity.

They use a “foot in the door” persuasion trick. First, they give you a flower in exchange for 10 pounds. Should you buy, they will take another one out and ask you for another 10 pounds.

Besides roaming the streets, these scammers go door to door as well. It is unlikely that you will face this at a hotel, but you might face one if you were to rent an apartment.

 

What to do:

Decline firmly.

 

7. Fake vouchers

A restaurant at West End, London

A restaurant at West End, London. Source: bookatable.co.uk

 

How it works:

There have been reports of tourists buying a book of vouchers that offer half price / a 1 for 1 deal at West End restaurants.

Try using them at these restaurants however and you will find that no such voucher exist.

 

What to do:

Buy only at the official place if there is one.

Alternatively, you can also consider a fun local food tour!

  • TourRadar: all the best multi-day tours by established names like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Trafalgar, etc can be found here with best price guarantee.
  • GetYourGuide: best day tours platform in Europe – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliated tour operator: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

 

8. Mock auctions

 

How it works:

This is commonly held at retail units around tourist attractions, where seemingly high value items, usually electronics, are auctioned off at a low price.

The whole thing is run by a gang to make it more convincing, where accomplices are in place to “win” items at a ridiculously good price.

Should you partake, you will most likely find yourself winning a low quality or damaged item.

 

What to do:

Avoid.

 

9. Beggars / sob stories

Beggar in London

Beggar in London. Source: huffingtonpost.co.uk

 

How it works:

You will find these beggars at Mayfair, Marble Arch and Oxford street.

Do not give any money as:

  • You may tempt other beggars to hound you.
  • May open yourself up to a potential robbery by the beggar’s accomplice while you are distracted.

There are also sob story beggars to watch out for:

  • Claims of being robbed, losing one’s way, wife giving birth soon, relatives sick, etc.
  • They ask for some money for them to take transport to the police station / embassy / friend’s house for help.
  • Some will even offer to exchange contact details / address so that they can pay you back, which is nothing but a ruse.

Watch out for these at the busy touristy areas, such as Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge and also busy transport hubs such as Victoria coach station.

 

What to do:

Avoid giving.

 

10. Fake (designer) products

Oxford street

Oxford street

 

How it works:

You will find many fake designer products (e.g. designer bags, clothes, perfumes, etc) being peddled in London, particularly at Oxford Street and Marble Arch.

Fake bags and clothes are pretty apparent with one look. However, for perfumes, the product tester is usually an authentic one.

Should you buy however, the perfume in the box is going to be a fake one.

 

What to do:

If the price is too good to be true, it is.

Should you want to buy something, learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff, or only visit licensed, experienced dealers.

You can find these by doing some online research or by asking your hotel / hostel staff.

If you do not want to go through the hassle of researching, other options include:

  • Using local connections: get a local to bring you around.
  • Shopping tour through GetYourGuide: best day tours platform in Europe – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.

 

11. Fake monk

 

How it works:

You can find fake monks all over the world, in places such as Hong Kong and the US as well.

These fake monks go around pushing a gold token / amulet / wooden bracelet into your hand and then demand a donation aggressively.

Some will push a clipboard in your face and ask you to write a donation number and to donate.

There are also others who will ask for money in exchange for blessings of peace.

It’s easy to identify fake monks, as real monks do not go around soliciting for money on the streets.

You will find these fakes around the usual tourist attractions such as Tower of London, Tower Bridge, etc.

 

What to do:

Firmly decline.

 

12. Bird poo / spilled liquid scam

London outdoors

London outdoors

 

How it works:

A common scam globally (e.g. Argentina, US), this is where a scammer will spill something on you that looks like bird poo / mustard / food sauce.

It can be anything as long as it shocks and keeps you distracted.

The scammer will now rush over to help you. In the ensuing commotion, either the scammer or an accomplice will try to steal your valuables without realizing it.

 

What to do:

Be alert and look out for anyone who tries to get too close to you.

If someone tries this on you, push anyone who tries to help you forcefully away and quickly move to a more spacious area.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, arm yourself with an anti-theft bag and a money belt or hidden pouch and these thieves will not be able to take anything from you.

 

B. TRANSPORT

1. Public transportation pickpockets

London tube

London tube

 

How it works:

Besides crowded streets and tourist attractions, the tube is another favourite place of pickpockets. Favourite hunting grounds include:

  • Stations: King’s Cross St Pancras, Victoria Station, Liverpool Street, Stratford, Bank / Monument, Leicester Square, Holborn
  • Line: Central Line

On the tube, watch out if you are close to the door, as there are pickpockets who strike and escape just before the doors close.

A reverse scenario is when a thief jumps onto the crowded carriage of a train at the last second. He will be carrying several bags. These bags serve to act as a cover, while he goes about picking your pockets.

At the station, there are also pickpockets who wait at the turnstile to strike while you enter.

The escalator is another spot to execute the classic front drop (of an item) and back snatch (stealing from you from behind).

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

Make it impossible for thieves to steal from you with these methods:

  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead of the actual one.
  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables in a money belt / hidden pouch, large valuables in a slash-resistant and lockable anti-theft bag.
  • Leave most valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe, secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) which covers loss of valuables.

 

2. The falling lady

 

How it works:

The falling lady scam works just like the pickpocket scam, but is so infamous it deserves an entry on it own.

As the name suggests, a female scammer, usually an elderly looking one, will fall / stumble somewhere crowded and make a huge commotion while doing so.

In the process, many will be distracted, That’s when the gang of pickpockets swoops in and begin grabbing as many valuables as they can find.

 

What to do:

When you find yourself in such a situation, keep your valuables securely fastened and get out there as soon as possible.

Also keep most of your valuables safely locked up in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe. Carry around a photocopy of your passport / ID instead of the real thing for identification purposes.

Again we stress, a money belt or hidden pouch and an anti-theft bag will do wonders in ensuring that your valuables are hidden and secure.

 

3. Used London day travel cards

London day travel card

London day travel card. Source: wikiwand.com

 

How it works:

You will find touts selling used travel cards at the end of the day.

They try to entice tourists by selling at a discounted price, but these cards obviously will not work.

 

What to do:

Buy from the official counter / outlets.

 

4. Fake sightseeing bus tickets

Sightseeing bus in London

Sightseeing bus in London. Source: dayoutwiththekids.co.uk

 

How it works:

There have also been reports of scammers at Trafalgar Square who sell tickets for a sightseeing bus.

The tickets might look legitimate but they are in reality not tagged to any company or vehicle.

 

What to do:

Do not buy from streets touts or unofficial sellers.

Only buy a ticket through these sources:

  • Direct from company / official counters.
  • Licensed retailers.
  • Your hotel / hostel if such a service is provided.
  • Day tour platforms like GetYourGuide – best day tours platform in Europe – excellent curation of tours, tickets and transport with best price guarantee.

 

5. Overcharging taxis

Taxi in Piccadilly

Taxi in Piccadilly

 

How it works:

Taxi drivers in the UK are generally an honest bunch, and unlikely to cheat tourists. Meters are tamper proof as well.

However, some reported tricks have been longhauling (taking a longer route than needed) and also selecting the pricier “night and weekend” rate on the meter on a weekday.

That said, note that there are always a number of road closures due to road works. So do not be surprised if your driver takes a detour or a longer than expected trip.

 

What to do:

For long distances, research the route and price it will cost. Some methods you can use include:

  • With your hotel / hostel staff.
  • An online taxi fare estimator / online travel forums.
  • Taxi booking apps like Uber, MyTaxi, Kabbee, Taxify, Addison Lee, Gett.

During the trip, you can also use your phone’s GPS and let the driver know you are doing so.

If you feel uncomfortable or feel that you have been scammed, take a photo of the taxi number and request for a receipt.

 

6. Rickshaw / pedicab / tuk-tuk drivers

 

How it works:

There have been multiple reports of rogue drivers of rickshaws / pedicabs / tuk tuks fleecing tourists for hundreds of pounds for a ride that lasts only a few minutes.

This happens in almost every country where you find them, such as Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.

You can see one such example in the video above. These “vehicles” are seen as unregulated outlaws and are best avoided.

 

What to do:

Avoid engaging. Do not believe anything they say.

 

7. Car break-ins

Portsmouth street

Street in Portsmouth

 

How it works:

There have also been cases of window smashing to steal any valuables you might left in your rental car.

 

What to do:

Ideally, park your car in a paid lot that has security cameras instead of in open car parks.

Also, back your car into the parking lot to make opening the trunk difficult.

Do not leave any valuables / items indicating that you are a tourist exposed in the car:

  • Hide small valuables in a money belt or hidden pouch.
  • Large valuables should be in an anti-theft bag with you / locked down in the boot (do this before driving / somewhere else, not when you are at your parking lot).

Finally, get travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) for two key purposes:

  • Monetary compensation for any loss of valuables.
  • Medical coverage in case you are assaulted.

 

8. Windscreen washing scam

Windscreen washing scammer

Windscreen washing scammer. Source: itv.com

 

How it works:

If you rent a car, you may find a windscreen washing lady who pops out of nowhere to wash your windscreen for 10 seconds.

Next, you tip her with a coin, but she drops the coin accidentally in your car. As it’s too troublesome to scour the floor in a tight space, you give her another coin.

When you finally find the coin on the floor which the lady has dropped in your car, you will find that it is a fake (it has been swapped)!

 

What to do:

Firmly decline the service.

 

C. MISCELLANEOUS

1. Snatch thefts / moped crime

 

How it works:

Generally, there are two versions of snatch thefts – strike and run, or distract and grab, in many possible contexts:

  • Bikes / mopeds riding past, with a pillion rider doing the snatch.
  • Snatching from behind you, then running into a getaway car to escape.
  • At restaurants, stealing unattended bags / valuables on the chair or table.
  • Hotels airports, where distracted / tired tourists carry all their valuables out.
  • The beach where tourists are relaxed, or when they head to the water.
  • Nightclubs, where “prostitutes” pretend to proposition tourists by grabbing them but are really trying to steal your valuables.
  • Seats beside a train’s doors where a thief gets out just before the doors close.
  • Stealing of bags on overnight trains / buses.
  • Valuables snatched through a car / bus window.
  • Thefts around ATMs.

 

What to do:

At crowded places, even seemingly safe places like at a restaurant or hotel:

While out walking / on transport:

  • Use a cross body anti-theft bag facing away from the road / windows of your vehicle.
  • Do not carry valuables in your hands when walking by the road or when beside a vehicle window / train door.
  • Avoid wearing obvious jewelry which can be easily ripped off.

Other protection measures:

  • Leave valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) which covers loss of valuables.

 

2. Fake apartment listings

Fake apartment listing

Fake apartment listing. Source: airbnbhell.com

 

How it works:

The rise of fake apartment listings is now a serious problem globally (e.g. Greece, Dominican Republic).

How scammers trick tourists is to advertise property in prime areas at below market rents, and then request for a full payment upfront via a foreign bank account or Western Union.

Other red flags include:

  • Illogical descriptions because they copy and paste without any edits.
  • Dodgy sounding reviews.
  • Difference in photos provided and pictures seen with Google Street View.
  • Payment only by bank transfer off the booking platform (note: they will use names that include the original booking platform to make it seem like you are still dealing with the platform).
  • Owner is overseas, insists on only using English in emails and emails are worded in poor English.
  • If the “owner” refuses to provide more details or to allow for a tour of the place.

 

What to do:

Only book via legitimate accommodation platforms such as:

  • Booking.com: Frommer’s tests have found the site to offer the best selection and rates amongst competing sites most of the time.
  • Homestay: if you are up for gaining genuine insights of the UK by staying with a local host!

Next, some due diligence to be done on individual listings:

  • Search online reviews (e.g. TripAdvisor) and Google the names of the owner.
  • Call the phone number provided on the listing.
  • Grill the “landlord” by asking specific questions, such as room dimensions or something unique as seen in the photos.
  • You can even pretend something exists in the online photos and test if the “landlord” can call your bluff.
  • Search if the property has another online presence or contact number and engage that to see if they are consistent.
  • Test the owner by requesting for a visit from a local friend before booking – it doesn’t have to happen, you just want to test the owner’s receptiveness.

Finally, avoid paying in full upfront or making payment off the platform.

 

3. Fake waiter credit card scam

Coffee at the Shard

Coffee at the Shard

 

How it works:

If you were to sit outside a restaurant, you might be approached by a scammer posing as a waiter asking you to pass him your credit card.

Should you do so, you will never see your card again.

 

What to do:

Pay only at the end of the meal and make sure that the waiter is an official one.

 

4. Spiked drinks

Cocktails

Cocktails. Source: beta.met.police.uk

 

How it works:

This happens everywhere around the world (e.g. Turkey, Philippines, Mexico) and in the UK as well, so be wary of accepting free drinks from strangers.

Single male tourists are commonly targeted by pretty bar hostesses. Once you are knocked out, your valuables will be stolen.

 

What to do:

Do not accept any drinks that you have not seen made in front of you, or to leave it unattended.

Canned or bottled drinks are recommended as it is more difficult for someone to put a sedative inside.

Also, do not flaunt your valuables. Leave them in your hotel / hostel /apartment safe which you can further secure with hotel safety tools.

 

5. Fake police

 

How it works:

This is not just a problem in London, but in other parts of UK such as Scotland / Edinburgh as well and globally too (e.g. Morocco, Indonesia).

The standard approach:

  • Scammer #1 asks you for directions or if you can help to take photos.
  • Two fake cops appear, accusing both of you of engaging in illegal activities (e.g. drugs, counterfeit bills).
  • They then demand to check your identification, bags and wallets. Scammer #1 will give up his willingly and encourage you to do so.
  • If you give hand them over, they may nick your valuables, cash or cards without you realizing, or simply run away with it.

 

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

 

In Scotland, it was reported that these fake cops will simply demand to check your belongings brazenly, and thousands have been stolen this way.

Incidents have been reported at the Grassmarket, Chambers Street, Castle Street, Calton Hill amongst others.

 

What to do:

If you have not obviously broken the law, be very skeptical when a “police officer” approaches you.

Three steps you can use to shake them off:

  • Verify badges and identification. Threaten to call the police hotline (end of this article).
  • Never give your passport if asked. Show only a photocopy of it.
  • If they want to fine you or check your bags, insist to only do so at a police station (use your GPS to find it or check with a local) with a lawyer or someone from your embassy.

Next, you should have hidden your valuables in a money belt or hidden pouch and use a cheap spare wallet with not much cash inside.

This way, the scammers may simply let you go since you do not seem to have much cash.

 

6. Would you like a drink?

Club in UK

Club in UK. Source: backpaxtravel.com

 

How it works:

Single guys are usually targeted, where they are approached by a pretty female on the streets asking if you would like to hang out over a drink.

Should you agree, you will find yourself in a deserted bar.

However, once you enter and get a seat, you will find yourself surrounded by scantily clad girls who order a round of drinks, while your new friend disappears.

When you try to leave, you will be hit with an extortionate bill.

 

What to do:

Do not head to a suggested bar together with a random stranger on the streets.

But if you do want to make new local friends, some questions to ponder:

  • Does the restaurant / bar seem legitimate (see TripAdvisor)? Are there customers?
  • Is the stranger reading from a script? Evasive about things?
  • Is he / she only bringing you to a particular restaurant or bar?

Some other tricks you can use:

  • Pretend that you have company by suggesting to go another place where you have a few friends at.
  • Ask for prices before ordering. Only drink what your waiter or you have poured.
  • Take a photo together.
  • Leave your valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe secured further with hotel safety tools.

If you fell into the trap:

  • Pay with a credit card but call the bank to dispute your charges immediately after leaving.

 

7. Rigged ATMs / ATM theft

 

How it works:

There have been reports where a scammer distracts you by tapping you as are withdrawing money to claim that you have dropped a $10 note behind you.

Most people would turn, and at this point, an accomplice will appear out of nowhere to steal your cash or card – here’s a video of a ATM robbery on Green Lane, Dagenham.

Besides robberies, ATMs can be rigged in two ways generally:

First, the card skimmer and pinhole camera / keypad overlay set up:

  • A card skimmer is installed over the card slot to capture your card details.
  • The pinhole camera / keypad overlay is used to capture your PIN.

Second, the card trap:

  • The card slot can be rigged with cheap tools to trap your card.
  • When your card is stuck, someone will come over and tell you that if you retype your PIN, your card will be unblocked.
  • Obviously, your card will still be stuck, but the scammer will now have seen your PIN.
  • Should you head into the bank / somewhere to seek help, the scammer will unblock your card and escape.

 

What to do:

Avoid using ATMs at dark, secluded areas. Use only at controlled environments such as in banks.

Scan the area for suspicious looking characters, check the ATM for any red flags, and cover your PIN when typing it in.

Also, although not directly relevant, consider using a RFID blocking wallet.

That will prevent your cards’ details from being skimmed by thieves with a mobile RFID reader / scanner.

 

8. Do you have spare change for parking?

Parking in UK

Parking in UK. Source: thetimes.co.uk

 

How it works:

This is similar to the sob story scam, where the scammer will approach you to ask if you have change for the parking meter, as he is about to get a parking ticket.

Most people fall for it as they are put under time pressure and it only concerns a small amount.

 

What to do:

Firmly decline.

 

9. White van scam

White van scam

White van scam. Source: bbb.org

 

How it works:

This is a really old scam that still exists, targeting both locals and tourists.

The scammers, working in groups of around 3, will be wearing a company uniform and driving their van around.

They approach you and explain that due to a corporate error (e.g. over-order by client; system error, etc), they are now left with many speakers which they need to clear soon. As such, they are able to offer them to you at lower than retail prices.

Should you reject the offer, that’s when the high pressure sales tactics will come in.

They will bombard you with fancy looking marketing collateral, technical jargon, hound you if you try to leave and finally, lower the price significantly.

Besides speakers, other things such as designer clothes or luxury bags can be sold as well. A common item is jackets which they claim are leftover samples which the seller needs to get rid of fast.

 

What to do:

Decline such offers – these are poor quality speakers / items.

 

D. KEY SAFETY ISSUES

This is not a fear mongering exercise, as most visits are trouble free as long as you exercise some common sense.

However, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Information below has been compiled from:

                                                     

1. Violent crime, hazards, hotspots, terrorism, civil unrest

Map of safe and unsafe regions in UK

Map of safe and unsafe regions in UK. Source: smartraveller.gov.au

 

How it works:

A brief summary:

  • Violent crime: can occur in larger cities.
  • Hazards: n.a.
  • Hotspots: Protestant parades through predominantly Catholic neighbourhoods.
  • Terrorism: history of attacks with 5 in London and 1 in Manchester since 2017, with threat unlikely to abate.
  • Civil unrest: demonstrations can occur. There also exists isolated violence by dissident republicans in Northern Ireland, which tends to happen during the summer marching season (April to August).

 

What to do:

Stay alert, avoid secluded areas, travelling alone at night, and don’t look like an easy victim (e.g. looking like a tourist / flaunting valuables).

Monitor local media in case of any terrorist threats, and avoid participating in demonstrations.

 

2. Medical care

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. Source: birminghamhealthpartners.co.uk

 

How it works:

Medical services in the UK are good and widely available.

Diseases to vaccinate against / watch out for include:

  • Insect borne diseases: Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, West Nile virus.
  • Food and water borne diseases: travellers’ diarrhoea.
  • Animal borne diseases: rabies, measles.
  • Human borne diseases: HIV.

 

What to do:

If you can’t afford travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads – our review), you can’t afford to travel, as:

  • Emergency health services can cost a bomb.
  • Insurance providers can make complex logistical arrangements to get you the best medical treatment fast.

Vaccinations to consider:

  • All travellers: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, flu shot.
  • Some travellers: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, rabies (outdoor activities, activities involving bats).

Prevent tick bites:

  • Protective clothing.
  • Use repellents with 20% or more DEET.
  • Consider permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass.

Food safety:

  • Practise safe hygiene such as washing hands with soap.
  • Only drink bottled water or water that has been boiled.
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, ice cubes, uncooked and undercooked food.

 

3. Natural disasters

 

How it works:

A brief summary:

  • Avalanches: in mountainous regions.
  • Windstorms: can cause severe damage to infrastructure.
  • Flooding, snowstorms: may cause roads to be impassible.

 

What to do:

Effective preparation and prevention involves staying at the “right” place, travelling at the “right” time and getting travel insurance (e.g. World Nomadsour review) that covers natural disasters.

Check the latest media reportsweather forecasts and sources such as:

 

4. Transport safety

 

How it works:

Roads are in excellent condition and the public transportation system is efficient and extensive.

However, some factors to look out for:

  • Narrow and congested roads in urban areas.
  • Strike action, floodings and track repairs may cause delays or roads to be inaccessible.

 

What to do:

Make sure your travel insurance (e.g. World Nomadsour review) covers travel accidents.

Driving:

  • Only book via legitimate platforms (e.g. AutoEurope – over 60 years of industry experience, super reliable with best price guarantee).
  • Check latest media reports and weather forecast.
  • Stay alert, wear seatbelts, keep doors locked and windows up.

 

E. GETTING HELP

1. Emergency numbers to call

Police in UK

Police in UK. Source: prideinlondon.org

 

  • Ambulance: 999 or 112
  • Fire: 999 or 112
  • Police: 999 or 112
  • Gas emergency: 0800 111 999
  • NHS direct (24 hour health helpline): 0845 4647

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