This article may contain compensated links. See our full disclosure here
Keeping our family safe and healthy was our number one priority when we moved to the UK.
Apart from our own concerns, we also had to manage those of friends and family. They were (and are) naturally nervous due to the widely reported attacks on the public in the British capital since 2005.
But having lived in London in the 1990s, when the threat to safety was no less real, I knew that in all likelihood we would be safe from those kind of attacks. And we would take extra precautions.
Unfortunately, we did not spend as much time thinking about how to protect ourselves from the type of crime that you find in all big cities.
Here is what we learnt about keeping our family safe in London and some tips to help you avoid our mistakes.
Is London safe?
As with any big city, London has its fair share of petty crime and unfortunately several more serious incidents per year.
But to offset this, the city has an excellent police force and the largest number of CCTV cameras per capita of any city in the world. Our neighbourhood in south London is regularly patrolled by community police. So most of the time I feel safe and secure.
Unfortunately, despite all of this security, we have been subject to a couple of crimes since moving to the UK.
And it was when we least expected it.
Given the amount of travel we do, I thought if we were going to be robbed it would be while we were away from home. But actually, we were present on both occasions.
I have had my bag stolen from inside a restaurant and we were robbed while in our home.
Though bad luck played a part in these incidents, we certainly learnt a lot about the things we could have done better.
Top tips on keeping safe in your London home
Houses in London may be very different to those you are familiar with at home.
In London, row or terrace houses with doors at the pavement are very common. This means it is much easier for people to see whether or not you are at home.
1. Take the time to get to know your neighbours
They will know if something is not quite right in your street.
Even though London has a transient population, many residents have lived in their neighbourhood for decades. There are even street groups you can join to strengthen these networks.
2. Guard your privacy
Use a peephole in your door and never open it to strangers, particularly at night. You can also buy privacy curtains and blinds to shield your windows from prying eyes.
3. Make sure you use all the locks on your doors
Pay special attention to the main deadlock. We were broken into as we had forgotten to lock the main lock. The burglar used a small sheet of plastic to open the door.
They probably tried this method all along our street and got lucky at our house.
4. Install a security alarm in your home
An alarm system would certainly have been a deterrent in our case. Since we experienced the robbery, a home alarm has helped me to feel less anxious and more secure.
5. Inform a trusted neighbour if you are away
If you are going away for a few days or more, let your neighbours know so they can keep an eye on your place for you.
Find more home safety tips for living in London on the Metropolitan Police website.
How to keep safe on the streets of London
1. Stay informed and follow instructions
The BBC London news is the most reliable source of information about general activity in the city. It’s also good to keep up to date with changes in transport services on Transport for London’s website
Local parents groups on Facebook are also great sources of information about your area.
2. Avoid known trouble areas – especially at night
In particular, get to know your neighbourhood. The vibe can differ from one street to the next in London.
If you need to take a slightly longer walk then it is worth doing for your own safety, particularly if you are a woman on your own.
I also like to use black cabs for transport when it is dark
3. Pay close attention to your valuables
Make sure you keep your bag or purse on your person, even in restaurants. When my bag was stolen I had it hooked over my chair with my coat over the top.
I was kicking myself when it was taken as it is usually something I would never do.
If you are particularly concerned about safety, these anti-theft bags have several security features.
4. Listen to your gut
If a situation or place does not feel right then leave immediately.
Important numbers and contact information
Emergency – 999
Urgent – 111 – for urgent but not critical assistance from police and emergency services
I hope this guide is helpful. The robberies we experienced are among the more challenging experiences of our time in London. I hope this information can help you avoid having similar challenges.
Please feel free to ask any questions.
Disclosure – this article contains affiliate links. That means that if you click on a link and buy a product we have recommended we may make a small commission. All opinions are own. You can read our full disclosure policy here