Talking Points

Group of friends partying in a nightclub and toasting drinks.

Nine ways to stay safe on a night out in Leeds

As a devoted Leeds landlord and reputable letting agency, our passion for this vibrant city is unparalleled. We firmly believe it offers an exceptional home for students, working professionals, and families alike.

Yet, as with any city, it’s imperative to acknowledge potential risks during nights out — evenings typically fuelled by alcohol and camaraderie.

While most student nights out in Leeds end without incident, planning how to safeguard yourself and others from potential risk and danger is crucial.

Join us as we delve into the best nine strategies to stay safe on nights out in Leeds.

1. Prep your phone

Though it might seem unexpected or unimportant, this first point is paramount for your safety when out at night.

A fully charged mobile phone is a lifeline, allowing you to reunite with friends in bustling venues or seek immediate help if needed.

Ensuring your friends’ phones are also charged, and their call and notification volumes are set to the maximum with vibration can prevent messages from being missed.

Establishing a safe word among friends for emergencies can also be invaluable for added security. A simple one-word text like “cuppa” in a group chat can signal the need for assistance and prompt a swift response.

The free SafeZone app is a helpful resource for University of Leeds students. The app grants instant access to the university’s 24/7 security team, allowing users to raise alerts for non-emergency events like being locked out or urgent physical and mental health incidents.

Download the app from Google Play or Apple Store and sign up using your university email address. Upload a photo for quick identification in case of a future emergency.

2. Plan your journey

For safe travels via taxi or Uber, consider pre-booking your rides before your night begins. This preparation enhances the likelihood of you and your friends travelling together, eliminates the need to linger around for transport home, and reduces the temptation to opt for unlicensed cabs. If you’re travelling alone, Uber also has a function to share your ride with someone else so they can track where you are.

If you plan to travel by bus or train, check timetables and journey times ahead of your night out. Move as a group to and from pick-up points, bus stops, and train stations, favouring well-lit paths for added safety.

Leeds University students partying at the union can take advantage of the free Night Bus service, which provides a safe travel option — conveniently dropping you off directly outside your student accommodation.

Post-drinks, avoid walking near canals or along the River Aire, as even a single drink can impair reactions, regardless of feeling sober.

3. Get cash before a night out

Despite the popularity of card use, some students opt for cash to monitor their expenses better and avoid overspending during a night out. Always keeping a £20 emergency fund in a pocket is also practical.

When you’re carrying cash, plan strategically. Consider withdrawing money during daylight hours, as doing so at night may pose a theft risk. Criminals are often knowledgeable about cashpoint locations around town, so securing cash in advance helps minimise the risks.

4. Stick together

A selfie of a group of students having fun and drinking on a night out.

The cardinal rule for a secure night out is sticking with a trusted group of friends.

Travelling to and from your destination as a unit and looking out for one another while out is essential. Although groups may naturally disperse as conversations unfold (and when the DJ plays a banger), staying attentive is important. If you notice a friend’s absence, message them to ensure their well-being.

Additionally, communicating your movements within the group — whether heading to the toilet or the bar — helps maintain awareness and safety. Use your group chat to reunite swiftly.

Remember, there’s safety in numbers — criminals often target those alone, making a cohesive group a less vulnerable target.

5. Look after your belongings

Safeguard your belongings by minimising what you carry and storing items where they’re less prone to loss or theft.

Avoid keeping your wallet or purse in your back pocket, as this makes you an easier target for thieves. When carrying a bag, ensure it’s always on your person — never leave it unattended, even momentarily, when you hit the dance floor.

While not typically stylish, opting for a cross-body bag provides added security, as it’s more challenging for thieves to snatch away. Alternatively, consider relying on zippered pockets you can easily monitor.

6. Be drink safe

Your drink’s safety should always be a top priority — never leave it unattended, as drink spiking can and does occur within moments.

Always ask a friend to watch your drink when heading to the toilet. If any doubts arise upon your return from the loo, exercise caution and buy a fresh one — your safety outweighs the cost of any drink.

It’s essential not to accept drinks from strangers, as the contents may pose unknown risks. Similarly, avoid ‘minesweeping’ — consuming leftover drinks from nearby tables — since you can’t be sure of their contents or whose lips have touched them.

7. Don’t overdo it

While enjoying drinks on a night out in Leeds, moderation is vital to ensuring a safe and enjoyable time. Consuming alcohol excessively may lead to losing control and an increased likelihood of taking risks, placing yourself in potential danger.

Take care of your friends by encouraging responsible pacing, suggesting they alternate alcoholic drinks with soft beverages, and being vigilant for signs they’ve had enough to drink.

If one of you needs to go home, head back as a group — there’ll be plenty of future opportunities for partying, so focus on keeping each other safe now.

Consider occasional alcohol-free nights where you can take on the role of the designated driver. This way, you ensure everyone’s safety, enjoy a fun night, and take pride in being responsible. Why not take it in turns with your friends to stay sober?

8. Ask for Angela

If you ever feel uneasy or threatened by a friend, date, or romantic partner while out in Leeds, keep an eye out for venues with an ‘Ask for Angela’ poster in their window. They’re also often on the doors of toilet cubicles.

Pubs, clubs, bars, and restaurants participating in this scheme have staff trained to assist. If you approach a staff member at the bar and ask to speak to Angela, they’ll understand you need assistance and will be ready to help

9. Look after others

In addition to watching out for your friends, extend kindness to strangers. If you encounter someone who’s lost their group and needs a way home, offer to share your taxi or walk with them to the bus stop.

By fostering a community where everyone looks out for one another, each student in Leeds contributes to a safer environment for all.

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