Lincoln isn’t a dangerous place to live, study, and go on a night out, but incidents in recent years would suggest that it is a case of being better safe than sorry when heading out.
In July last year, a forty-five-year-old man raped a drunken woman after he saw her fall over outside a popular nightclub in the city. He was later convicted of rape and theft, after he stole her handbag.
Although victims of such attacks aren’t always drunk, it is a well-known fact that alcohol causes a loss of inhibitions, making people more vulnerable to dangerous situations.
Since October 2007, an organisation called Street Pastors has been present in the centre of Lincoln, helping people to get home safely after a night out.
Joy Liddle, the co-ordinator for Lincoln Street Pastors, says their aim is to take God’s love onto the streets to help people.
“We aim to take God’s love on the streets in a practical way by being available to care, listen, support, and help vulnerable people — especially young individuals,” she says.
The volunteers are present in Lincoln from 10.30pm until 4am the next morning on Friday and Saturday nights, helping anyone in whatever way they can.
One of the common ways in which they help female is to give out flip flops to those who are unsteady on their feet.
“Sometimes girls come out of nightclubs and are rather unsteady on their feet. What is the first thing they do? Take off their shoes and start walking towards the taxi rank on bare feet.
“On the streets are all sorts of things including broken glass. Therefore we carry flip-flops with us and offer them to shoeless females,” she says, adding “we don’t charge for them and we don’t expect them back, we just aim to care for them.”
Street Pastors, who operate in approximately 200 towns and cities across the country, also look after those who have become separated from their friends, become ill, and those who are too drunk to be allowed in a taxi.
“In order to get a ride in a taxi you have to be able to walk unaided to the cab. Some people are so drunk they are not able to do that and are therefore not able to get home. We often give them water to drink and walk them around until they are able to get a taxi,” Liddle says.
But it’s not just practical help that the volunteers offer: “Some people go out to get drunk because they want to escape from their problems. Having a few drinks inside you can lower your inhibitions which means people may want to talk, and we provide a listening ear,” Liddle says.
But before even leaving the house, steps can be taken to ensure that both and your possessions stay safe. After the recent spate of burglaries in the area, Lincolnshire Police have listed their basic crime prevention tips.
The main thing to remember, they say, is that if potential thieves can’t see it, they can’t take it, so making sure all valuables such as spare keys, laptops and televisions, are out of sight, is crucial.
They also say that “opportunist” thieves search for “easy targets”, and unlocked doors and windows are such targets.
Twenty-year-old Abdul Alim Bachani was burgled just before Easter last year.
“It was in the early hours of Sunday morning and I was living on Carholme Road. They made their entrance using the back window, forcing it open and coming through the kitchen,” he says.
Thieves stole Bachani’s new laptop worth £520, his wallet containing his bank cards, his PlayStation 3 and accessories, DVDs and his university bag to carry it all away in.
“The next morning I realised what had happened. I contacted the police and they came and did an investigation and got forensics to do some finger prints but nothing came of it,” says Bachani.
“After the burglary I was extremely hurt and felt so angry. I’d lost all my course work, which was a major set back for my second year, I had no way of getting money and I had no means of identification.
“I really did think that nothing like this would ever happen to me but it did, and it felt horrible.”
Bachani hasn’t been able to recover anything that was taken. He tells people to keep their belongings safe.
“I would advise students to keep their windows and doors locked at night and whenever they go out. Keep things out of sight, get insurance, and never take any risks because you really don’t know when it could happen to you.”
Joy Liddle’s top three tips for a safe night out