Crossing the street is the most perilous thing you’ll do. Always look down to see which way traffic is flowing—the street will be painted “Look right” or “Look left” so you’ll know. Also, a steady-lit green man on the crosswalk signal means it’s safe, but when the green man flashes, do not begin crossing—it means cars are about to gun it again.
Few places in London are unsafe. Neighborhoods that might be called sketchy are usually distant from the Tube lines, and they only feel tense after dark, when shops close. Simply be sensitive to who’s around you and you’ll do fine.
The biggest nuisance tourists might encounter—besides tipsy locals—is moped muggings. Each day, dozens of people are so absorbed in their smartphones that they don’t notice the two-wheeled pickpockets zoom up, snatch their phone, and speed off. Simply be smart about how you use your phone and, of course, where you put your cash and what you leave sitting in the open.
London is always on the lookout for terrorists, and it has been since the days of IRA violence. Don’t leave a bag unattended even for seconds or you may lose it.
Guns are banned in London—even on most police officers—so you don’t often see the kind of violence taken for granted in the United States. Londoners cite knife crime as a problem, but the victims are almost always young men who themselves carry knives. Some male tourists have gotten fleeced at “hostess bars” in Soho. If you do suffer a lapse of judgment and accept the barker’s invitation to go into one, understand that you might have cash exacted by lunkheaded yobs with tattooed fingers.
Should you find yourself on the business end of the legal system, you can get advice and referrals to lawyers from Legal Services Commission (www.legalservices.gov.uk; tel. 0300/200-2020). Crime victims can receive volunteer legal guidance and emotional fortification from Victim Support (www.victimsupport.org.uk; tel. 0808/168-9111). In the event of a sexual assault, find help through the Rape Crisis Federation (www.rapecrisis.org.uk; many caseworkers will only assist females).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.