30 Mar London Knife Crime, Stabbings, Death – What Can YOU Do?
What do YOU do if you find yourself attacked or threatened of being attacked?
The following article is to provide YOU the reader with advice and guidance on maximising your own personal survival if you find yourself attacked or threatened of being attacked by a Knifeman.
Due to our concern and disgust here at Mobius, at the increase in abhorrent knife crime, stabbings and death on our streets here in the UK, we have decided to release a brief blog to provide advice and guidance on ‘Personal Security’ and how you, as a pedestrian or when driving can help to protect yourself in ‘worst case scenario’.
According to the House of Commons Library Research Briefings, (https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN04304#fullreport) –
“In the year ending March 2018, there were around 40,100 (selected) offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales. This is the highest number in the eight-year series (from year ending March 2011) the earliest point for which comparable data are available.”
Out of the 44 police forces, 42 recorded a rise in knife crime since 2011.
Source: Home Office, year ending March England & Wales excluding Manchester
2019 has begun on par with increasing these figures year-on-year from 2018.
Unlike many aspects of violent crime, knife attacks are not limited to the usual familiarity between attacker and victim but that attacks are sporadic regardless of time of day, are not always combined with robbery but solely for gang related ‘point scoring games’, and more importantly, are indiscriminate. Evidentially, anyone can be attacked anytime of the day, during any activity and in most areas throughout London and the UK.
So what can we do to maximise our personal security?
Before we highlight aspects of ‘Actions-On’ relative to street knife crime in London it is important to gain an understanding of ‘Personal Security’ as a whole.
The 5 Principals of Personal Security (SAFER)
Personal Security should be considered in the context of all circumstances; during work, in your social and family life and regardless of what country you are in. The following 5 principles are ones that decrease our risk to any threats posed, thus increasing our chances of survival.
Personal Situation Awareness
Observation is the key to ALL aspects of situational awareness. Travelling by either foot or vehicle, pre-empting actions untoward including those of a hostile surveillance nature requires a high level of observation – not just the looking but the seeing, and not just the seeing but the assessing – continuously. Situation awareness should begin the moment you step foot outside your front door and should not end until you return. An installation method of alert such as motion and body heat sensors around your property to alert you in real time of any approach from all directions is one main device we can employ to counter any surprise and benefit any preparations. It provides a much safer area and time to assess the immediate street scene before opening the door. This is by no way a paranoid move, but is a method we can implement to reduce risk as much as possible. It alerts you of anyone approaching your house and/ or your vehicles parked in the drive during the day or night. The installation of motion sensors with a smart phone image/ video alert capability internal to your house also ensures that the house you left vacant is safe to return to and that no possibility of unwanted persons are present
The Colours of Awareness State – ‘Cooper’s Colours’
The ‘Coopers Colours’ was originally introduced by a US Marine Lieutenant Colonel that provides an excellent illustration of ‘states of mind’ concerning alertness levels. They were originally devised with white, yellow, orange and red. The US Marine Corps subsequently added black to highlight a physical condition experienced when one goes from white or yellow and immediately to red. Induced shock sustained as a result of mental unpreparedness causes shock and even momentary paralysis. The colours benefit the mental awareness states specific to those operating in high-risk environments and those where the risk to threat is higher than the norm but also the levels concerning situational awareness.
However, they also illustrate a benefit to anyone in a public space where ‘unknowns’ are present. Situation awareness, both personal and whilst working is prevalent – more so when you are in countries with a high-risk factor by virtue of their relatively high violent crime rate and/ or economic or political instability in comparison to normal experience in your own home country.
So, how do we deal with this?
Through the pneumonic ‘SAFER’…
- Situation awareness
- Avoid routine
- Follow security procedures
- Exercise common sense and initiative
- Remain anonymous or show of strength
- – Situation awareness – Accept the threat exists
We must first accept that the threat exists. Complacency is the biggest ‘killer’ amongst those having been attacked and must therefore be accepted as the biggest danger. If we do not realistically accept the threat exists on a personal level, we will not realistically accept the risk of threat existing on an operational one and all methods adopted to negate such risk are at ‘lip-service’ level, and more or less pointless – both personally and operationally.
Be on your guard, attentive, alert, aware, wary, cautious and observant. All elements that encompass vigilance. You must ensure that you remain vigilant not only at work but also at leisure. Observation and vigilance are the two key factors that will provide valuable time in reacting to actions untoward – surveillance or physical attack. If we conduct our daily lives in a higher state of vigilance we will be able to act in a preventative manner and react in a quicker and more decisive one.
- – Avoid routine
In order to plan and formulate an attack, naturally, a certain degree of surveillance is required. If the individual (or target) you are watching gets in his car at the same place at the same time and travels to the same location every day, how easy is it to attack him/ her? If your routine involves walking home from work alone in the dark, is it easier to attack you than if you were driving or walking with others?
Simple avoidance of routine is one method of personal security but choosing different methods of travel, routes and times, and avoiding patterns in both work and social life creates a more unstable, unreliable and altogether difficult target to attack. However, those individuals in such positions that can be specifically targeted require a proper and accurate assessment and, where needed, proper protection should be afforded.
- – Follow security procedures
Security procedures (which should also include those for fire) are designed for a purpose. Along with maximising security, they are designed to minimise the risk to threat ratio by implementing methods of operation and ‘actions-on’. If we have no uniform methods or structure of security procedure in place, everyone will be acting and reacting in a different manner, and that will be contrary to the aims of security. Security procedures must be designed, implemented and briefed by experienced security professionals who have in-depth knowledge of criminal and terrorist networks, activity and methods of operation, specific and local to the area of concern. They must also ensure that, as and when necessary, updates are obtained and analysed and ensure that this new, accurate and timely information is disseminated immediately to all those concerned.
Procedures must be established for:
Home – Office – Family – Travel
For related reading, read our blog on https://mobius.international/why-would-you-need-a-specialist-security-professional/
- – Exercise common sense and initiative
A large percentage of personal security is down to common sense, which in effect, is down to experience. If, for example, you are working in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo and you have some ‘down time’, is it really sensible to venture out for a few drinks in close proximity to the known gangland areas?
Likewise, is it sensible to venture anywhere knowing that the areas are in close proximity to a hostile environment if you are unsure where you are going? The British family on holiday in Brazil that were shot after taking a wrong turn into slums in 2017 underlines this narrative (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/british-family-shot-attacked-brazil-holiday-carjacking-criminal-gang-angra-dos-reis-a7880191.html)
This may appear to be a stretched hypothetical example, but it is not so farfetched and you may well find yourself in situations that require a bit of the old common dog, and even closer to home than you think, in the UK.
- – Remain anonymous or show of strength
Keeping a low profile in higher risk areas can be easier said than done. Whether you are in Chile, Buenos Aires, Algeria, Guinea, or the Ukraine, you will stand out as a Western European no matter how much effort you exert in attempting to look like a local. You can, however, make reservations in different names, dress more conservatively/ in line with surroundings, not display jewellery, not display cash and not do anything to lead people to believe you are a person of a certain status. Working life, of course, we are restricted by virtue of attendance at business meetings, functions, or other social events on the schedule (or not on) and the ‘where we go and what we wear’ decisions are, for the most part, taken out of our hands. In such situations we must therefore make any prospective attackers believe an attack would not succeed by showing professionalism, alertness and strength in numbers. The attacker must believe in our ability in order to be dissuaded and choose a softer target.
“Assuming the Threat”
The mental state of mind is ultimately what will define pre-emptive actions, pro-actions and reactions and will ensure a higher success rate in countering any hostile action and this leads me on to the specifics of ‘Knife Crime’ in the UK and what we can do to maximise our survival. Going back to ‘Coopers Colours’ our state of mind walking around London should be bouncing between Yellow and Orange dependent on specific factors.
Monday 1st April 2019 – 49 stabbings in London so far this year
What Can YOU Do?
The following points have been adapted from specialist Close Protection (CP). To read more on CP visit www.CPBook.co.uk
It is possible to find many ‘amazing’ videos on social media on how to deal with a knife threat when you yourself are unarmed. Moves to knock the knife out of the assailants hands, locking the elbow joint whilst punching to the throat all look extremely effective. These moves may indeed work in Hollywood films but even for the experienced self-defence expert, the best defence against any knife attack is to run away as fast as you can.
Looking at ‘running away’ in more detail, it makes an obvious assertion that in order to run away from something you must first identify it – and the sooner you identify that threat, the sooner you will be able to react. Many of these knife attacks are conducted by means of surprise; the attacker does not present the blade until the last minute and even then the attacks are conducted from behind or when the victim is completely oblivious. In such circumstances, I am afraid to say, there is little you can do and it largely remains a case of reverting to our state of alert bouncing from Yellow to Orange and vice versa according to the street situation and your ‘personal space’ – including of who is walking behind you? The thought process of, “Why would I be a target as opposed to another person nearby” must remain a constant. Being distracted on anything other than your immediate surroundings such as being on the phone, talking or texting/ browsing, having your back turned to the street at an ATM will naturally increase your chances of being ‘easy prey’. What we wear or carry can also be a factor of being targeted. Showing out of wealth with Prada/ Gucci handbags, shoes and clothing, wearing anything that could be construed as being antagonistic; clothing with logo’s, emblems or colours associated with political affiliations or views, specific organisations, gangs etc, driving expensive vehicles whilst within a combination of location, time of day, being alone and distracted will all serve as a benefit to any attacker. As soon as you identify a possible threat, i.e. an unknown person moving towards/ close to you then make effort to increase that distance from them. If the possible threat then becomes a definite threat, i.e. the unknown is now definitely pursuing you then drop any bags you are carrying, use FAST AGGRESSIVE ACTION and run as fast as possible, shouting, screaming – make a noise. Of course, as soon as you identify a knife threat then immediately run as fast as possible away.
Slash & Stab Resistant Clothing and Bags
There are several products on the market in the form of clothing and bags whereby the material is slash resistant. Although many incidence in knife crimes are stabbings, this material will not prevent a direct penetration of a blade but they will prevent injury from a slashing action. Companies such as PPSS Group sell both slash and stab resistant products – https://www.ppss-group.com/product/slashpro-slash-resistant-clothing/ – wearing such clothing will buy you time whilst going to some lengths in protecting you in the process.
The nature of attacks that have occurred on the streets of London are almost unprecedented in recent times and these also include when travelling in a vehicle. Attackers with so-called ‘Zombie knives’ smashing vehicle side windows of the victims’ car and stabbing them in a frenzied ‘road rage’ incident are incidence in London you would not think possible just a few years ago. The mindset awareness state of Coopers Colours should prevail. Do not fall into the trap of the feeling of being ‘secure’ because you are in a vehicle. That would require an armoured vehicle for such a threat of which remains way out of the pocket of many.
Congestion in London is a constant experience, no matter what road or area you travel, you will at some point be static. When you are static, you will be at your most vulnerable both from attackers on foot and from blocking vehicles to restrict and prevent your vehicle’s movement (escape).
Much ado with vehicles and their use when being ambushed is trained and utilised by Special Forces and specialist Government protection units. However, many of these training objectives and concepts can be and are used in every day life for our own personal protection. Personal Security whilst driving in consideration to only knife crime but any form of hostile attack on the streets of the UK can be broken down into four main subject headings:
- Embus/ Debus
- Tactical Driving
- Anti-Hijack/ Anti-Ambush
- Beware of the Decoy
Embus/ Debus (Getting in and out of a vehicle)
Personal security must begin the moment you leave your house and not stop until you return (not withstanding residential security of course). To that end, situational awareness during your movement on foot to your vehicle and when parked departing from your vehicle must continue throughout. Technical ‘improvements’ for ease of life over the years with cars has seen a spike as a detriment to both personal and vehicle security. Keyless entry, start/ stop engine auto cut off and the like take the control from the driver and in personal security and anti-ambush situations can make a bad thing worse. As soon as you are in your car – lock your doors and keep your windows up. Keep valuables off the seats and out of sight, preferably in the boot. Start your engine then put on your seat belt.
“Tactical driving is a number of driving techniques adapted for Personal Protection for use worldwide to afford yourself maximum mobile protection”
Reasons for Tactical Driving:
Having ‘Room to Move’ is the main consideration with ‘tactical driving’. Room to move must remain consistent throughout driving at any speed and whilst static. If you have room to move, you have room to escape.
“Always leave enough room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front so that you can see a ‘thumbs worth’ of the road surface in front of your car.”
The greatest threats to your position on the road during all moves in London, and for any other major city for that matter are taxis, motorbikes, cyclists and pedestrians. All four users believe strongly that they ‘own’ the space of road they are using or intending to use. They demand respect from other road users and will not sacrifice their position unless they definitely feel threatened. Even then, I have experienced taxis in ‘bumper car’ situations. It is this friction/ road rage in particular that has been the main initiator in the lead up to any attack whilst in a vehicle. If your lane, junction, position is blocked or you have been ‘cut up’, do not bad mouth, use sign language or your horns as an aggressive rebuke but focus on maintaining that ‘room to move’.
THROUGHOUT ALL OF THE ‘ACTIONS ON’ BELOW DO NOT GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE AT ANY TIME.
KEEP THE DOORS LOCKED AND WINDOWS UP.
If you don’t have room to move then you will become trapped allowing any attacker time and location to attack. As with any identified attacks on foot involving a knife, the same applies whilst in a vehicle. Careful observation, anticipation and planning will provide the room to react, the room to move and above all else will be safe and professional whilst securing your dominant position.
The following car drills are based on the knife attack going in without any prior warning signs leading up to the attack being identified insofar as ‘attack recognition and identification markers’ are concerned. It must be said that the earlier a possible attack is identified, the quicker the attack can be prepared for – and countered. If the threat has the constant initiative and upper hand at both the initiation and during the attack phase then the chances of its success dramatically increase and thus, the chances of a successful counter and extraction are greatly reduced. It is imperative that situational awareness continues throughout all road moves. This awareness of surroundings should be heightened every time a vehicle overtakes, every time a pillion passenger motorcycle follows or overtakes (and undertakes) and every time your vehicle slows or comes to a halt. Traffic lights, road works (including diversions) and other road users dictating the speed of your vehicle should ‘flick a switch’ in your mind. Opportunity for attacks are heightened during this time and a mental and physical preparation should occur to reduce reaction times.
– Drive through (Knifeman Side)
A moving vehicle that is presented with a knife threat to the side should immediately attempt a drive through (drive past).
Actions by YOU
On immediate identification of a threat to the side, you are to aggressively move the vehicle away, accelerating with lights and horn and to drive immediately to a Police Station.
– Drive through (Block Front – Knifeman Front)
Your reaction will invariably be affected by timing insofar as the timing of the attack in relation to the position of your vehicle, the position(s) of the threat(s) and the increased reaction time gained by good all round observations. In order to increase the threat’s chances of a successful attack, it has to control the movements and speed of your vehicle. The best way it can achieve its aim is to create a ‘block front’. This can be by way of natural obstacles, road layouts, road works, and also by way of simply driving a vehicle into your path or ramming your car itself. The resulting reaction by YOU is dependent upon the efficiency and timing of the block together with the type of blocking vehicle used. If the block was conducted by a huge Kenworth/ Scania style truck then your reaction will be different than if the block was carried out by another car. The block front will either be conducted very fast to inflict surprise, or it will be conducted in a manner of ‘normal vehicle manoeuvring’ such as that involving a truck. If the attack is by way of the former then the decisive action by YOU must be both defensive in avoidance of collision initiated by the threat and offensive in manoeuvres implemented for the purpose of escape. If a large truck is manoeuvring up ahead in the direct path of your vehicle then you should immediately slow your car whilst conducting 360° observations. The proper mentality to be adopted in such circumstances should be that of a constant and absolute distrust in the situation until such a time that the ‘block’ has cleared.
The likelihood of any purposeful block front being conducted by a large lorry for the purpose of specifically targeting YOU in London is extremely remote and has been mentioned more as a means to get you thinking worst case as opposed to considering any overt concern on the issue. Nevertheless, this block front could be conducted as a completely independent and innocent lorry manoeuvring. If you are blocked to the front with knifeman threat to the front then reverse out and keep reversing until sufficient distance is created for you to turn and accelerate away.
— Rapid Block Front – Knifeman Front
YOU are to immediately identify an escape route and aggressively drive around or through the block by ramming both the knifeman and block if needed using your vehicle as a weapon. It is imperative that when a block front, actual or perceived, goes in, your immediate action drill must be to check the rear to confirm the presence of a rear block. A drive through may not be successful on the first attempt and therefore further attempts must be made including a reverse out. Don’t be concerned about colliding with other vehicles, street furniture or high kerbs but try to avoid collision with them as they could result in more damage to your vehicle, especially the wheels and steering column, and should be avoided unless ample room is available. A reverse out should involve hard acceleration and when a side road has been identified to continue the reverse around the corner. The reverse should continue down this side road until such an opportunity for turning round presents itself. The side road should NOT be used for the benefit of a Y-Turn. Reversing into a side road and then driving forward back into the ‘Kill Zone’ to escape is presenting the vehicle unnecessarily for further targeting. Throughout the entire evasive manoeuvre the vehicle MUST keep moving.
— Block Front – Not immediately confirmed hostile – BEWARE THE DECOY
If the route ahead is blocked or in the process of being blocked and it is not confirmed if an immediate threat is present, you should slow the vehicle to crawl neck speed whilst conducting 360° observations. If still no threat has been identified you must stop, allowing not just room for manoeuvre but to allow an increased distance between your position and that of the block. You must immediately identify any escape routes. If the vehicle is a manual transmission then you must select first gear and cover the accelerator whilst still conducting observations throughout. If automatic transmission then ‘sports mode’ to be used if available. If the vehicle is approached by an individual(s) to either your door or the front passenger door and still no threat is identified then the driver is to lower the window a maximum of two inches. It is extremely important that whilst this is on-going that attention is not narrowed into a state of ‘tunnel vision’ but remains at a constant high to the entire perimeter and surrounding areas of the vehicle in all near, middle and far distances.
Bear in mind that any style of dress/ uniform worn by the unknown(s) approaching should not distract from the preparation for your reactions. Do not be drawn into a state of trust with the situation. Doubt everything. The approach to the vehicle could be a decoy/ distraction and the first confirmed sign of hostile action must be rapidly and aggressively countered. If the situation is deemed potentially hostile in any form, including that of just a ‘perception’, then immediate efforts must be made to drive out even if it means conducting a U-Turn. It should also be considered that the reason for the block itself may indeed be genuine. That the road works or vehicle manoeuvre ahead is legitimate but that hostile action is making use of the situation. It is important not to become trusting just because it may be plainly obvious that the block may have an authentic valid reason.
— Block Front and Rear (Knifeman threat) – no drive through
It is imperative at this time to keep the vehicle moving even if that movement is as simple as backwards and forwards. Immediate assessment of the main threat must be made. If it is not possible for the vehicle to move away from the threat(s) and he/ they continue to approach your vehicle in a threatening manner then continue to move your vehicle backwards and forwards even if that means running him or them over.
Points to Note:
Just as we expect others to respect the law so must we must also. UK Law prohibits anyone from carrying an offensive weapon in a public place if you don’t have a valid reason to do so. An offensive weapon is any article that is designed to cause injury to another person or any article being carried with the intention of causing injury to another person. This means that carrying something that could be viewed as an offensive weapon, and then using it in a threatening way, could mean that you are prosecuted. The maximum penalty for carrying an offensive weapon is four years imprisonment and a fine.
That said, when your life or the lives of others are being threatened then don’t forget that using anything around you as a weapon as an aid to prevent injury or loss of life to yourself of that of others is permitted – use of force and considered circumstances permitting.
Vehicle Security Film
Protective Security Film can be professionally applied to your vehicle windows with or without a tint. Companies such as Pentagon apply a 300 micron thick polyester based laminate that prevents your windows from shattering during blunt force allowing you time to escape.
DISCLAIMER: While best efforts have been used in preparing this article, the author, Richard Aitch, Mobius International UK Ltd, makes no representations or warranties of any kind and assumes no liabilities of any kind with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents and specifically disclaims any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness of use for a particular purpose. The author shall not be held liable or responsible to any person or entity with respect to any loss or incidental or consequential damages or injury caused, or alleged to have been caused, directly or indirectly, by the information or programs contained herein.
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