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Safety Advice

General Information

The United Kingdom is a densely populated country that, like any other, has its share of social problems.  The country is not a violent one, however should you encounter difficulties, do not hesitate to contact the police for help.  The UK’s National Health Service can be relied upon for both emergency and routine treatment.  Note that you may have to pay if your country has no reciprocal arrangement with the United Kingdom.

Crime

Petty crime does exist at many tourist destinations, hotels, pubs, restaurants, food outlets, on public transport and at airports.  Pickpocketing is known to occur more frequently during the summer months.  Your passport is a valuable document, try to keep it in your accommodations safe where possible.

Police also report that there has been an increase in mobile phone theft in the UK.  It is recommended that you avoid displaying your phone and valuables unnecessarily.  Do not leave any valuables unattended in motor vehicles.  You should ensure that your personal belongings are kept secure when staying in hostels.  Do not leave your drinks unattended in bars and nightclubs as drink spiking is on the increase.

Due to ongoing terrorist threats, there are occasional security alerts, especially on the Underground.  These are mainly false alarms often due to people accidentally leaving a bag or parcel unattended.  Always co-operate with the authorities if your bag has to be searched or if you are asked to evacuate a building.

Tourist Information

Tourist information is available in many towns and public places, including airports and main rail and coach stations.  Tourist offices will be able to help you on almost anything in their area, including places of interest and guided walks.  

Currency

The United Kingdom’s currency is the pound sterling (£) and pence (p).  Scotland has it’s own pound sterling notes which represent the same value as an English note and can be used elsewhere in the country, although not necessarily accepted everywhere.  The Scottish £1 pound note will not be accepted outside of Scotland.  Travellers’ cheques, although the safest alternative, are not always accepted throughout the country.  Although the United Kingdom is a member of the European Union, it has yet to adopt the Euro as its currency.

Transport

To drive in the United Kingdom you are required to have a current driving licence with an international driving permit, if applicable.  You must also carry proof of ownership or a rental agreement in your vehicle, plus any insurance documents.

Public transport is safe, however you should only use licensed taxis and minicabs in the UK.  Travelling on your own on public transport late at night is not safe and assaults do occur.  Tourists are to be vigilant.

Seasonal weather conditions can be extreme which can affect travel arrangements, including the cancellation of airline, bus and train services.  The local emergency services in the affected areas will provide up-to-date information and advice to tourists.