INDEX

General Travel - Do's and Don'ts

Before you book

CRIME AND TRAVEL

Holidays - before you leave

Travel information

Luggage Security

Disclaimer 

 


 

GENERAL TRAVEL - DO's and DON'T's

DO check the instructions for evacuation on trains, the Underground trains and buses.

DO have a alternative route planned out for returning home from work. Do you know what route to follow if you needed to walk ?

DO NOT use unauthorised mincab companies for any journey, no matter how short. Check the Transport for London ( Tfl ) website for authorised companies for your location and future destinations.

DO keep telephone details of a London Black cab company in your wallet or purse. You don't know when you may need it.

DO join a car rescue / recovery company if you own a car. It will save you £'s and a lot of anxiety if your car breaks down.

DO take a mobile phone with you when driving so you can call for help if you break down. Don't forget to have a blanket in the car to keep you warm while you wait.

DO NOT TALK ON YOUR MOBILE WHILST DRIVING.

 


 

BEFORE YOU BOOK

DO
check UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Offices' website to see if your holiday destination is suffering from any civil unrest or certain types of crime.

DO check to see if you need a Visa to enter your destination country location.

DO check that you passport is valid for the period of travel. Some countries specify the the minimum period left on the passport to allow entry.

DO check if any vacinations are required as a condition of entry into your destination country.

DO check if any vacinations or drugs ( anti - malaria, etc ) are required for your personal welfare.

DO ( if travelling to the USA) register your intention to travel to the USA on their ESTA system.

DO ensure that you have adequate travel insurance which is suitable for the country to which you are travelling.

DO ensure that you inform your travel insurance company of any outstanding health conditions health conditions from which you are suffering. It is recommended that you inform insurance company's of conditions that you have had in the past and let them decide their action. Failure to inform insurance companies of any conditions may invalidate you policy.

DO obtain a European Union health card. This will enable you to receive some form of health treatment within the European Union and some other countries. It is not a replacement for travel insurance. Some health insurance policies will become invalid if not supported by the European Union health card.

DO register you travel arrangements ( UK citizens ) on the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Offices' LOCATE system. Doing this will help you if you loose your passport or if a problem occurs in your destination.


CRIME AND TRAVEL

Subject Index

Guides
Belguim
Egypt
Finland
Hungary
Italy
Netherlands
Russia
Sweden
Turkey

GUIDES

The following are a group of descriptions about what crimes currently affect tourists and the law enforcement in various countries. The information is from several tourist guide books and online sources.

The main purpose of this section is to indicate how the various national police operate and how it is not neccessarily to the same standard as found within the UK.

Types of crime are also not state specific. As has been found within the UK, we have had groups of tourist shoplifters and picket-pockets do their deeds then return home with their ill-gotten gains. This is in addition to the affects of migration across European boundaries. So crimes other than those described will eventually become commonplace.




BELGIUM

 

Guide : Thomas Cook
Dated : 2007

Crime

Crime is not a major worry; it exists mainly as petty theft from cars, and of handbags and wallets. Take the usual precautions : do not leave items on car seats where they can be spotted and the car broken into.

Violent offences are rare. Drugs related crime is increasing.

Police

Emergency telephone number : 101

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office information

http://ukinbelgium.fco.gov.uk/en/


Editor's note :

When I was holidaying in Brussells this year (2010) the oddest thing I saw was a large 8 x 6 feet poster on the side of a local buses warning about paedophile crime. I don't normally go around with my eyes shut in other countries, but this is the first time I have ever seen anything of this nature. Several years ago there was news about paedophile child imprisonment in Belgium, but nothing recent. As always, keep your children safe.


 

 

EGYPT

Guide : Thomas Cook
Dated : 2007

Crime

You and your possessions are generally safe in Egypt. Nevertheless, take special care of passports,

tickets and money. Hotels will look after your valuables for you, but you should obtain a receipt.
(Editors note : we are talking 4 and 5 star hotels here, NOT guest houses or hostels. )

Drugs

Illegal drugs - do not bring drugs into the country or use any while there. Possession is a serious offence, while smuggling and dealing involves mandatory sentences of either life imprisonment or death.
Prescription drugs - If carrying prescribed drugs, get a doctor's letter, just in case you are stopped.

Security

Egypt is a safe country for visitors. You are far safer walking through the streets of Cairo, where muggings are virtually unheard of, than through those of many European or American cities - and that is true both day and night. There is a strong sense of communal responsibility, especially towards foreigners. Anyone in distress can expect the immediate assistance of both the public and the police.

In addition to the regular Metropolitan police, who wear black uniforms in Winter , white uniforms in Summer, and who mostly speak Arabic, there are special police who wear the same uniform but with a red armband saying "Tourist Police". They sometimes speak a foreign language, usually English ( not necessarily fluently however ), and are posted at tourist sights, museums, airports, railway stations and ports. They are there to help if you are experiencing difficulties.

There are also the more soldierly looking Central Security Police, always in black and armed with automatic waepons, who guard embassies, banks, post offices and other public buildings.

Women Travellers

Westerners going to Egypt are, to some extent, putting themselves in a position of contrast to the conventions of social life there, although in major tourist dastinations a Western woman may never feel the cultural differences.

An Egyptian woman's life is very much bound up, indeed bounded by her family relationships, whether as Daughter, Wife or Mother. The entrined moral, religious and legal systems of the country enforce this.

Middle and lower class educated women appear circumspect in their relationship with a man. Both families would be involved and the girl would be accompanied when in public situations. More affluent Egyptian women have all the appearance of a modern, Western female, often in dress and manner.

Your Western view may be that that is their business and your business is your own. Some Egyptians will make the effort to see it that way, especially as you are only passing through. A great more will not agree.

Things are changing in two directions. In certain areas of Cairo and other cosmopolitan places such as the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh, women behave much like Westerners when it comes to dressing and having a good time. However, recently there has been a move afoot to revert to a more conservative way of life, at least outwardly. If wandering off the beaten tourist track and you have any doubt, dress conservatively.

If it helps, wear a wedding ring. Or keep in the company of other women, for example, when travelling on a train. If using the metro in Cairo, there are "Ladies only" carriages, which are worth using. Egyptian women will happily adopt you into their circle

There is no reason for you to put up with unwelcome attention. If, at worst you are "touched up", you can first say "imshee" ( get lost ). If something stronger is called for shout "sebne le wahader" ( leave me alone ). People will come to your aid, and the man will be so ashamed, he will probably run away.

Police

Emergency telephone number : 122
Tourist Police : 126 ( some staff will have limited or no English )

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office information

http://ukinegypt.fco.gov.uk/en/




FINLAND

 

Guide : Thomas Cook
Dated : 2008

Crime

Finland generally has a low crime rate compare to most other European countries and the US; and visitors are unlikely to find themselves victims of crime. In rural areas it is still quite common for cars and homes to be left unlocked. It is also the case that there are no real large scale " don't - go - area's " like in some European cities and the US. Street crimes like mugging and theft are uncommon, but not unheard of. Although the risk is low,it still make sense to take normal precautions.

Finns are heavy drinkers and this can result in a dgree of rowdiness, but usually remains good humoured: the "yob culture" and binge drinking that disfigure many British towns and cities are little in evidence.

Alcohol abuse, coupled with isolation and long dark nights of Winter, contribute to a relatively high suicide rate and to domestic violence, but these are unlikely to impinge on the visitor.

Police

The Finnish Police ( Polis ) are relatively few in number, a testament to the general low levels of crime, and the average visitor will never need to interact with them. Often they are only seen when conducting random breath or speed checks on the roads. Nevertheless, every town has a police station

Emergency telephone number : 112

Website : http://www.poliisi.fi/english/index.htm

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office information

http://ukinfinland.fco.gov.uk/en/




HUNGARY

 

Guide : Rough Guide
Dated : 2005

Hungary is one of the safest European countries to travel in and you should have little reason to worry about your personal security. However, whilst violent crime is extremely rare, the incidence of theft is growing, with Budapest in particular a prime target for pickpockets, car thieves and other scams.

Unfortunately incidents of racist attacks are also steadily increasing, with Asian, Arabs and, most commonly, the Hungarian Roma bearing the brunt of physical assaults.

Specific offences

Since police in towns and cities occasionally ask to inspect passports and visas you should make sure that everything is in order. In border regions, solo travellers may be ( politely and briefly ) questioned by plain clothes officers, but here too there shouldn't be any problem.

Drinking and driving is totally prohibited and anyone caught doing so is liable for prosecution.

The use of drugs is also illegal in Hungary, and should you be caught in possession the police have the power to detain you for up to 48 hours and administer a mandatory drugs test, which if positive, can result in prosecution.

Prostitution and "Consume Girls"

Budapest could once lay claim of being the porn capita; of Europe, but streetwalking is now illegal in Hungary except in "tolerated zones", the catch being that there is only one such zone in the entire country, in Miskolc. Prostitution does of course still exist elsewhere, mainly in the capital, although these days it is largely confined to nightclubs, phoney hotels and escort agencies. A phenomenon of a different kind has hit the streets of Budapest in recent years, that of the "Consume girls", who target solo male foreigners. A couple of attractive young women (they're not that difficult to spot) will approach you, typically along Vaci utca, get talking and, without wasting time, "invite you" for a drink in a bar of their choice. A few drinks later you'll find yourself presented with a bill somewhat bigger than you bargained forand be strong armed into paying up. The bars, and the waiters who work in them, are an integral part of the scam which makes any escape or complaint futile, although if you ever do find yourself caught up in such a situation ( although the warning signs are pretty obvious ) then report it to the police.

To register a complaint for any scam contact the Bureau of Consumer Affairs, Jozsef Krt 6 ( telephone

1/459-4800), or the rip-off hotline ( telephone 1/438-8080).

Police

The Hungarian police ( Rendorseg ), most of whom have at least a smattering of German but rarely any other foreign language, always had a milder reputation than their counterparts in other Eastern Bloc states, and are generally keen to present a favourable image, though in recent years there are signs that they have become increasingly intrusive, particularly where ethnic minorities are concerned. Having said that, unless you are suspected of black-marketeering, driving under the influence of alcohol, drug-smuggling or drug taking, then there is little reason why you should have any dealings with the police. The most visible presence is in Budapest, particularly during the summer, when Tourist Police patrol the streets and metro stations, there mainly to act as a deterrent against thieves, but also to assist in any problems tourist may encounter.

As well as the normal emergency number, you can call the English speaking 24 hour Police Hotline ( telephone 438 8080 ).

Emergency telephone number : 107

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office information

http://ukinhungary.fco.gov.uk/en/

 

Editors comments

I visited Budapest in 2009. Some of the comments within the Rough Guide are misleading as far as language is concerned. Up until the fall of the Soviet Bloc, Hungarian children were mandatorily taught Russian, after the fall they were taught English. So most people under the age of 30 will have some understanding and I personally found this the case in Budapest. Even people not in that age group were willing to "play Charades" to help to answer a tourists question.

I wandered all over central Budapest, into it's suburbs and a rural area and did not feel one bit threatened. I think that this is possibly down to the mindset of the Hungarians which will probably fade over time. Under the old regime they had a very active secret police which encouraged "grassing" on neighbours about any misdemeanour. A kind of "ultra-orthodox" neighbourhood watch !

As far as the uniformed police are concerned; I saw them speeding around during the day in their cars and at night checking peoples papers.

My Tips

- You must always have some form of photographic ID on your person. Some guide books state that a UK driving license is okay. The UK FCO state that ID should be your passport, but also reported that the main theft is of peoples passports. I carried my license and photocopied the photo page of my passport and carried that with me.

- Have the full address of your hotel written down on a piece of paper. So if you are asked where you are staying by police there will not be any confusion. Also, if you book a taxi for returning to your hotel there will be no misunderstanding (ie. you may be taken somewhere else and then you have to pay for the rectification ). Likewise, if you want to go to a specific location ( an office, another hotel etc ) have that address written down for the same reason.

- Don't pick up / hail a cab on the street. At best, they may not be licenced at worst you could be robbed. Check your guide book for names of reputable companies. Four star hotels and above usually have cab companies working from their foyers. There was virtually a cab on each street corner with it's own placard showing its rates, don't be tempted !

- When arriving at Budapest Airport do not use cabs supplied by touts in the arrivals hall, they are illegal, but they still operate there ! Use the company called "Zona Taxi". Zona Taxi have a booth just outside the exit and there are five fixed fee's to different parts of Budapest. Get one of their business cards for the return journey.

- One of the popular modes of transport in Budapest is the funicular railway. This is the easiest way up the hill into the old quarter and it is privately run. It can become particularly busy. I used it several times, the final occasion it was very busy and the cashier was rushed. I requested two return tickets and was charged accordingly. On my return I was refused entry as we had been given singles ! As to whether I had been "diddled" I know not ?

- In the UK we wander around taking photographs of everything unless we are specifically told not to (flash may damage fabrics etc). It is virtually the same in every other country. I was surprised when walking around a transport museum by being shouted at in a very stern voice "foto ticket". That's right you have to pay to take photographs !

- Travelling without a valid ticket or pass on public transport is one of the "cardinal sins" in Budapest. They have plain clothes ticket inspectors travelling on the trams, buses and metro. I had my pass checked nearly every other journey. It is an instant fine and they don't except any excuse.




ITALY

ROME

 

Guide : Thomas Cook
Dated : 2006

Crime

Rome is a safe city, and violent crime, especially against tourists, is rare. You can walk alone at night more or less anywhere in the historic centre, though a little more cuation should be applied close to

Termini railway station. Theft however is very common, and tourists, especially in touristy areas such as the Colosseum, Spanish steps and Trevi Fountain, are often the victims. If you stick to these few simple guidelines, however, you should be able to avoid any problems : 

- Watch out for gypsy children working in gangs. While one distracts you or causes a commotion, another picks your pockets and goes through your bag.
- In busy areas, carry your bag clutched under your arm, or in front.
- Popular bus routes for these gangs are those taken by buses 40 and 64 going from Termini railway station into town and onto St Peters.
- Never leave valuables in an empty car or on a car seat near an open window.


Police

Report stolen property at the Police Headquarters ( Questura ) : Via San Vitale 15

Emergency telephone number : 113


NAPLES

Guide : Thomas Cook
Dated : 2006

Crime

The Forcella District ( be warned ) - the heart of gangland Naples, this gloomy quarter is the legendary home to the city's lowlife. Honour and poverty combine in this neighbourhood made famous for its gangland connections and petty crim. Safe to explore by day, it's a fascinating glimpse into the lives led by citizens thriving preecariously on the edge in one of Europes richest nations.

Pickpockets ahead - to avoid being tergeted by Naples' deadley-accurate pickpockets, avoid shopping between 6pm and 8pm. Workers going home after a long day crowd the streets along with locals out for a stroll, transforming pavements into a mess of elbows and shopping bags. Take out your wallet or make a big purchase and you can be sure it will soon find its way into someone else's pocket.

Organised crime - the history of organised crime in Naples dates back centuries; however, the large-scale criminal activity associated with the crime lords of today is a far cry from the relatively gentle smuggling and theft that made up the bulk of profits until the closing days of WWII. Known by the ancient Spanish name of La Camorra, local mafia hoods were primarily involved in two-bit operations until the arrival of crime boss Raffaele Cutolo during the mid-1970's. Up until then, organised crime units occupied themselves with profits made from cigarette, fruit and vegetable smuggling. Cutolo upped the ante by creating his Nuova Camorra Organizzata. Clans that failed to join his merry men were forced to join together under the banner of the Nuova Famiglia Unita.

The following is a edited extract of some of the mis-deeds in Naples :

- Soaked up funds meant for rebuilding parts of Naples after an earthquake in 1980.
- Bribed city councillors into accepting property development that did not meet building regulations.
- Controlled council unions into taking strikes in response to police and civic leaders actions that the
Cammora disagreed with.
- Recent scams include : illegal prescription drug distribution, the sale of faulty second-hand airline parts. A complex con involving cloned southern italian number plates, registration papers and insurance details sold to Northern Italian drivers, thus enabling them to collect endless trafiic and parking fines, only for the the final bill to be sent to the unsuspecting Southern car owner whose details had been forged originally.

General crime - has always bee a big problem for the city. Its reputation is actually far worse than reality. Petty theft ( bag snatching, pickpocketing )is the most common form of trouble for tourists, and activity is particularly high in the much frequented historic sites. You are unlikely to experience violence or assault, which occur mainly in the context of gangland activities.

- Don't carry too much cash and avoid walking around alone very late at night on badly lit streets ( especially if you are a woman ). Your hotel will warn you about particular areas to avoid.
- Attitude is everything. Look as if you know what you're doing and where you're going.
- Do not carry your wallet in your back pocket, especially on buses.
- Keep your bag closed with your hand on them at all times.
- Always keep your bag and coat in sight at all times.
- When walking down the street, be sure to wear camera straps and bags crossed over your chest. Make sure the bag / camera is on the side away from the street to prevent robberies from motorbike theives.

Police

The Neapolitan police force is called the "Carbinieri". Officer are very approachable, however, few speak English. hey are friendly and helpful and usually happy to help tourists with directions or any other information you require.

The nearest police station to the city centre is : Questura Centrale ( Central Police Station ) at Via Medina 75.


Emergency telephone number : 112 or 113

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office information

http://ukinitaly.fco.gov.uk/en/




NETHERLANDS

 

Guide : Rough Guide
Dated : 2003

AMSTERDAM

Crime

Almost all the problems tourists encounter in Amsterdam are to do with petty crime - pickpocketing and bag-snatching, rather than the more serious physical confrontations, so it's as well to be on your guard and know where your possessions are at all times. Thieves often work in pairs and although theft is far from rife, you should be aware of certain ploys, such as : the "helpful" person pointing out "birdshit" ( actually shaving cream or similar) on your coat, while someone else relieves you of your money; being invited to read a card or paper on the street to distract your attention; someone in a cafe moving for your drink with one hand while the other is in your bag as you react; and if you're in a crowd of tourists, watch out for people moving unusually close.

Sensible precautions against petty crime include : carrying bags slung across your neck and not your shoulder; not carrying anything in pockets that are easy to dip into; and having photocopies of your passport, airline ticket and driving licence, while leaving the originals in your hotel safe. When you are looking for a hotel room, never leave your bags unattened, and similarly of you have a car, don;t leave anything in view when you park; vehicle theft is still fairly uncommon (2003), but luggage and valuables do make a tempting target.

Personal Safety

Although it's generally possible to walk around the city without fear of harrassment or assault, certain parts of Amsterdam are decidely shady, and wherever you go at night it's always better to err on the side of caution. In particular, be cautious in and around Centraal Station, the Depijp area, south of the Sarphatipark, and in the Red Light District, where there's an unpleasant, soemtimes threatening undertow amongst the narrow streets between the Oude Kerk and Zeedijk, play safe and avoid these streets if you can or, in the case of Centraal Station, don't wander around looking lost.

As a general precaution, avoid unlit or empty streets and don't go out brimming with valuables. Using public transport, even late at night, isn't usually a problem, but if in doubt take a taxi. 


Police

There's little reason why you should ever come into contact with Amsterdam's police force (politie), a laid-back bunch in dodgem-sized patrol cars or on bicyles. Few operate on the beat, and in any case Amsterdam is one of the safer cities in Europe.

If you are robbed, you'll need to go to the police to report it, not least because your insurance company will require a police report; remember to make a note of the report number, or better still ask for a copy of the statement itself. Don't expect a great deal of concern if your loss is relatively small, and don't be surprised if the process of completing forms and formalities takes ages.

Most police officers speak at least some English.

Emergency telephone number : 112

Website : http://www.politie.nl/English/  ( not very helpful )


Additional information

Guide : AA Spiral - Amsterdam
Dated : 2001

The official website visitamsterdam.nl ( now www.holland.com/global/cities/amsterdam/ where the remarks have been removed ) does not mince its words about places to avoid : after dark, it says, the alleyways of Nieuwendijk are "a mugger's delight, and pretty foul", and the South end of Zeedijk and the street off it are "sleazy and riddled with miserable-looking junkies".

The whole of the Red Light District - in which these areas are inlcuded - attract dozens of thieves, who target visitors befuddled by drink and drugs. Outside this area, most parts feel safe, even at night.


UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office information

Warning

Amsterdam Police are warning travellers of a trend whereby men - usually originating from Eastern European countries - make themselves out to be plain clothed policemen. The trend is that one man usually addresses people to find out if they are tourists. When confirmed, two fake policemen (in plain clothes) show false police identities and pretend to be investigating counterfeit money and false credit cards. People are asked to hand over their money and credit cards for verification - sometimes they also ask for PIN numbers. Often people are also searched for drugs. After the 'inspection' the fake policemen return all the money and cards - at least that is how it seems. Victims usually find later on that part of the money and/or credit cards are gone.

Fake policemen never wear a uniform and like to show shiny police badges. Dutch policemen don't have badges. Also, Dutch police in plain clothes will rarely carry out this type of inspection.  Always ask for identity, check it thoroughly and don't let yourself be intimidated.

Call 0900-8844 to get in touch with the nearest police station if you are not entirely happy


http://ukinnl.fco.gov.uk/en/


 

 

RUSSIA

MOSCOW AND ST. PETERSBURG

Guide : Thomas Cook
Dated : 2008

Crime

The tourist is unlikely to encounter the much reported organised criminal activity. Petty theft is comparable to that in major cities elsewhere. Do not leave valuables unattended, do not carry large amounts of cash, and always lock your hotel room. Be wary if a stranger invites you home. At night, be careful with taxi rides and keep to well lit streets. Avoid the gangs of gypsy children in areas frequented by foreigners - they strip their victims of valuables like locusts. On overnight trains lock your compartment dood and do not open it to strangers.

Driving

Russian driving practices are hair raising, and travelling by car in Moscow and St Petersburg is not recommended. Roads are potholed and badly signposted, and you are at the mercy of the GAI, the ill reputed traffic police.

Drivers must possess a home and international driving license with a Russian language insert.
It is illegal to drive after drinking any alcohol.

Women Travellers

Russian men may seem chauvinistic but do not intend to offend. However, if you feel sexually harassed, cause a public scene rather than ignored it. At night, keep off backstreets and avoid lone taxi rides. "Mace" spray canisters are legal in Russia.


Police

Emergency telephone number : 02

In the event of theft or illness, a better bet is to turn to your hotel or embassy.


UK Foreign and Commonwealth information


The vast majority of visits made to Russia by British nationals are trouble-free. But petty crime does happen in cities. Be alert at all times to the possibility of mugging, pick pocketing and theft from vehicles or hotel rooms and to groups of women and children who beg.

Pay attention when drinking alcohol Drink-spiking followed by robbery does happen and can also lead to violence and/or abuse. Unconscious victims are often left outside, which can be life threatening in the winter months. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times to make sure they are not spiked.

In St Petersburg there have been reports of street crime where tourists have been specifically targeted. These crimes are carried out by well-organised gangs. Be aware of pickpockets in the main tourist areas and around the main railway concourses.

Incidents of bogus police officers harassing and robbing tourists have also been reported. If you are stopped always insist on seeing ID. Avoid openly carrying expensive items, or anything that might easily identify you as a tourist.

Incidents of armed violence in major cities are usually linked to criminal/business activities and are not usually directed against foreign visitors. There have also been bomb attacks linked to criminal disputes. 

http://ukinrussia.fco.gov.uk/en/


SWEDEN

 

Guide : Thomas Cook
Dated : 2008

Crime

Sweden is one of the safest countries in the world and, in general, tourists are highly unlikely to find themselves in what might be considered crime infested areas in cities such as Stockholm and Gothenburg.

Nevertheless, general common sense should always be emplyed, such as hiding valuables when you park the you park the car or placing them in hotel safes.

Pickpockets may be at large during the lively and crowded Summer festivals that take place throughout the country and stations in main cities all year road. So make sure wallets and purses are safely out of view.

Police

The Swedish police ( polisen ) service is divided into 21 districts, but they all come under the jurisdiction of the National Police Board. They can be identified by the royal coat of arms on their uniforms.

They should be consulted if you are a victim of any crime : most police in Sweden speak fluent English.

Emergency telephone number : 112

Website : http://www.polisen.se/en/

UK Foreign and Commonwealth information

http://ukinsweden.fco.gov.uk/en/


 

TURKEY

ISTANBUL

Guide : Time Out
Dated : 2007

Crime

Crime is low and phyical violence ( football supporters aside ) is rare in Istanbul. The main thing to beware of is bag snatching, especially around tourist areas like Sultanahmet or crowded places such as Emininonu and Beyoglu.

Women

Single women can get hassled, but this is generally confined to verbal comments or staring. That said, women should not wander around Beyoglu or Taksim late at night unaccompanied. Steer clear of Tarlabasi, one of Istanbul's seedier districts, and remember that it's illegal not to carry a photo ID with you at all times.

Few special rule apply for women in Istanbul. With some provisos, you needn't dress any differently than at home, certainly not in the more European areas such as Beyoglu and points North.

Probably best to leave the micro mini's and short shorts at home, though. To avoid being stared at, wear trousers or skirts that come to the knee. And in more conservative areas, and particularly in mosques and churches, keep your shoulders covered.

In touristy areas like Sultanahment you may get hit on. It's usually harmless and nothing more than you would expect in Italy or Greece, but all the same it can be annoying. It's also genrally easy to shrug off. Avoid eye contact; don't beam wide smiles. Don't respond to invitations, come-ons or obnoxious comments. If a man is persistent and in your face, try saying "Ayip", literally "shame on you". Chances are someone will intervene on your behalf. It seldom extends beyond that, but should you need help, the word is "Imdat".

Police

The police have a very bad reputation for incompetence, excessive use of force, and an appetite for back handers - which they generally deserved. Determination to change this image has resulted in a major PR drive, the new police website has an exhastive catelogue of services in ten languages (Ed's note, found the website but not the translations ).

Emergency telephone number : 155
Website : http://www.iem.gov.tr

Tourist Police

The place to report thefts, losses or scams. Most officers speak English.

Address : Yerebatan Caddesi 6, Sultanahmet
Telephone : 0212 527  4503
Tram : Sultanahmet
Open : 24 hours daily

UK Foreign and Commonwealth information

http://ukinturkey.fco.gov.uk/en/



 

WHEN THINGS GO WRONG

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office website provides very comprehensive information on travelling abroad. The following link provides guidance on what to do if things do go wrong.

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/when-things-go-wrong/crime/


 


 

HOLIDAYS - BEFORE YOU LEAVE

DO cancel the milk and the newspapers.

DO ensure that all of the windows and external doors are locked.

DO turn off your water supply at the stopcock.

DO ask a close neighbour if they would not mind pushing any purtruding mail through the letterbox.

DO think about controlling lights with a timeswitch. This is to help give the impression that your home is occupied. So lights would typically come on at dusk and go out at 11pm.




TRAVEL INFORMATION

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Transport for London ( Tube, buses, Minicabs and Taxis ) : http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl

First Capital Connect ( train times, etc from Enfield Chase station ) : http://www.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk/

One Railway ( train times, etc from Enfield Town and Southbury Road stations ) : http://www.onerailway.com/

National Rail Enquiries (Nationwide train times & rail company details) : http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

FLIGHT INFORMATION

Flight Information ( major airports ) : http://www.baa.com/

Flight Information ( London City Airport ) : http://www.londoncityairport.com/

 

ROAD JOURNEY INFORMATION

This article shows sources of information for road travel within the UK and some adjacent countries.
These may prove useful over the holiday period, especially during the current bad weather.

Check route

The Transport Direct online journey planner * : www.transportdirect.info

The AA route planner : www.theaa.com

Check the latest traffic conditions *

Live updates : www.highways.gov.uk/traffic

Traffic England automated telephone line ( real time ): 08700 660 115

Traffic Radio : www.trafficradio.org.uk (recommend set radio button to "Streaming MP3" )

Check the weather forecast *

Severe weather conditions that disrupt roads and motorways : www.highways.gov.uk ( homepage )

Meteorological Office for weather conditions : www.metoffice.gov.uk

Flood warning information : www.environment-agency.gov.uk/floodwarning


Highways Agency Information Line *

Available 24 hours per day every day. Information on traffic conditions, major incidents and signs.

Highways Agency Information Line : 08457 50 40 30

e-mail : ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk


Road Travel in Scotland

Traffic Scotland : http://trafficscotland.org/

Road Travel in Northern Ireland

Traffic Watch Northern Ireland : http://www.trafficwatchni.com

Road Travel in Wales

Traffic Wales : http://www.traffic-wales.com

Road Travel in the Republic of Ireland

National Road Authority : http://www.nra.ie/

Road Travel in France

Motorways : http://www.autoroutes.fr/en/homepage.html

Road travel conditions : http://www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr/diri/Accueil.do?langue=en


Reporting problems that you see *

Debris on the road,etc

Highways Agency Information Line : 08457 50 40 30

e-mail : ha_info@highways.gsi.gov.uk

This information was sourced from the Highways Agency - "Think Ahead Move Ahead" booklet which is free from motorway service area's or by calling the Highways Agency Information Line : 08457 50 40 30


 
LUGGAGE SECURITY

This article is not about how you pack your luggage to stop it from creasing cloths, or what you're not allowed to pack in your bags or what is the best suitcase to buy. This is about how you can try to secure your luggage.

Personally up to a couple of years ago was not into locks, mainly because I am not good with keys ( I lose them ). So I started to think of what would be the best way to secure a reinforced nylon zippable suitcase. It came in a flash, cable ties. Cheap and disposable. Carry some spares for the intermediate and return journies. Then came the security scares at UK airports. Obviously airport security need to scan each suitcase for illegal contraptions. If they see anything odd they will need to open the suitcase. Locks will be cut off, cable ties can be cut off. Then your suitcase will be vulnerable later into the journey. So do not pack any form of valuable in any stowed luggage.

In the USA they have tried to minimise this problem by coming up with "Master" keys for luggage locks. The general public can purchase one of these special locks which can either be key or combination. These locks also have an additional lock built in that can be operated by master keys that are only held by US airport security staff. Remember these locks are only useful in the US, NOT the UK or Europe at the moment ( Feb 2008 ), but if you are in the market looking for a lock they only cost a couple of pounds more. You can easily identify them as they have red diamond on the casing and the packaging may have the words Travel Sentry.

So how bad is theft from luggage at airports ? Looking at what is said in the national press, the Police don't know and it is not their fault that don't know. When a passenger arrives at their destination airport and they find that their suitcase is damaged and something is missing they go to their airline or operator enquiry desk and complain. When a passenger arrives home and discovers that something is missing from inside their suitcase they telephone the airline and complain. The Police do not get involved, they are out of the loop ( they have no reports ) and the airlines are not oblidged to tell them and therefore don't ( bad publicity ).

For example, passengers at Heathrow in 2006 reported 1145 incidents of theft. At Stansted Airport during 2007 Essex Police finalised an exercise ( Operation Bruno ) from which 23 baggage handlers were arrested ( bear in mind that 10,000 people work at Stansted ). As a result, reported theft dropped by 60%. At one point passengers using one airline flying into Stansted reported 7 thefts to the Police, another 97 were reported only to the airline.

A detective Sergeant from Stansted Airport is meant to have said that "locking your suitcase will not help, anyone armed with something as simple as a pen can break into any zipped suitcase in seconds".

So the Stansted Airport outcome in numbers :

One baggage handler got 8 months in jail from 3 counts of handling stolen goods (1)
Operation Bruno lasted almost 2 years of under cover investigation (1)
23 arrests and 19 house raids (1)
15 Baggage Handlers  lost their jobs after admitting to theft and being cautioned. (3)
300+ pairs of women's knickers were stolen by a Stansted airport baggage handler. He has been told he could face jail ! (4)

Air travel is not the only place where your luggage is vulnerable. What about train travel where there is a greater liklihood you will pack valuables into your suitcase ? Do you always have your luggage in full sight ? I doubt it very much, especially on something like a 5 hour journey to Edinburgh. You are going to "spend a penny" at least once; and not everyone can afford the luxury of First Class and have their food order delivered to them ! A possible way around this is to fasten your suitcase etc to the luggage shelf or the leg of the table where you are sitting using a lightweight stainless steel cable ( see PACSAFE website ).

So will I continue to lock my suitcase, well yes. It will still be harder to prise the zip open than just to unzip it if there wasn't a lock. That may be enough to put somebody off. As for hard sided suitcases, how many of you have seen those sprung open on an airport conveyor or carousel with the owners unmentionables following behind ?

Finally, do not pack any form of valuable in any stowed airline luggage. Repeat the mantra " I will not pack valuables into stowed airline luggage", I will not pack valuables into stowed airline luggage".........

Have a pleasant holiday or business trip.


Associated Website Links

Travel Sentry (not a manufacturer of luggage locks,but helps in their specificiation ) : http://www.travelsentry.org

For US travel check out the Transportation Security Administration website : http://www.TSA.gov

For Air travel from the UK : http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=306

Secure luggage manufacturer : http://www.pacsafe.com/www/index.php

References

(1) "The Law" - Essex Police News ( Dec 2007 )
(2) ESSEXCHRONICLE.CO.UK ( Nov 2007 )
(3) BBC.co.uk
(4) Braintree Times ( Aug 2006 )

 

DISCLAIMER :

All of the information on this website has been provided in good faith. In no way can we guarantee that you will remove or reduce the liklihood of having items stolen from your luggage by following any of the comments, carrying out any of the checks or installing any security item mentioned on this website.

The uaware.org.uk website is not responsible for the content of the quoted external internet sites on this page.