Two attacks on young women, which occurred at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk in 2010, have been in the news again recently as the cases come to court. Whilst these incidents are shocking, don’t let them put you off enjoying your festival, particularly here in Ireland, where such serious cases have mercifully been very rare. Remember, the majority of music festivals pass off without serious incident. Most people are just there for the music and to have a great time in the company of other like-minded folk. But, it is worth being mindful about your personal safety, especially if it is your first festival. Whilst your parents may be back home leafing through leather sectional sale catalogues, and turning the heating up, you’re out in a field roughing it in the elements, with only your own wits and common sense to rely on. Here are a few guidelines for staying safe and having a happy festival.
The following guidelines might just sound like common sense, but people ignore the basics again and again simply because they sound so…well, basic. The following list of suggestions was compiled with information from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, who are specialists in personal safety. In consultation with festival organisers, who have seen it all over the years, they came up with some of the following tips.
- Theft is actually the most commonly reported offence at festivals, but some simple measures make it harder for criminals.
- Firstly, just leave your valuables at home if at all possible. Do you really need your iPod with all that music around you?
- Don’t put a padlock on your tent. It just encourages thieves to think you’re protecting something worth stealing, even if you’re not.
- Don’t ever leave valuable stuff in your car. Leave the glove-box open, and remove the parcel shelf so it’s clear there is nothing worth stealing in the boot.
- Festival organisers suggest that you mark your tent and property with your name and postcode. This reduces the sell-on value of stolen goods.
- Use a hidden money belt if you have one. Make sure you split money up between you in case it gets lost or stolen. That way you won’t lose the whole lot.
Safety In Numbers
Stick together! In both the recent attacks the victims were singled out after wandering off from their group of friends
- Stay together in a group if possible, or arrange a meeting place at which to rendezvous if you want to split up.
- If you need to go anywhere that is dark and quiet at night go with a friend, or preferably wait until daytime.
- Pitch your tent in well-lit areas if possible
- Stay in well-lit areas of the campsite after dark. Don't wander off alone at night. Ever.
Both recent attacks on women were by strangers. Never forget that everyone at a festival, except your mates, is basically a stranger. Apply the same rules you would anywhere else
- Never go anywhere with someone you have just met, never leave the campsite and enter a vehicle with someone you don’t know.
- If you are approached by a stranger be cautious.
- Never trust anyone you have just met with your valuables.
- If you feel worried trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation immediately.
It’s wise to stay vigilant at all times, of course. But criminals and thieves usually pick a time to strike when others are distracted – maybe by a headline act. Keep your wits about you at these times in particular
- Never leave drinks unattended. Spiking of drinks can happen at festivals just as it can in pubs, and vigilance just as important.
- Keep an eye on your phone battery. Ensure your phone does not run out of charge. Try to keep it for emergency use only rather than for chatting away on. Many sites have recharging areas where you can top up your phone, so make sure you know where this is.
- Make a mental note of where the First Aid and Security points are. They are there for a reason, and usually quite busy.
- If you are a victim of crime report it immediately, before the offender has a chance to target anyone else.
- Consider carrying a personal alarm.
- If you sense trouble brewing or someone’s behaviour is getting out of control, remove yourself quickly from the scene. Don’t get dragged into other people’s bad vibe, or try to help.
Yes, most of this advice is common sense like making sure your bicycle insurance is up to date, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the basics now and again. Your festival is likely to be an unforgettable experience, so just make sure it’s for all the right reasons. Remember: Stay vigilant. Stay together. Stay safe. Party on.