Laura Jackson has opened up about being “followed by a really strange man” on her way home from an event last night.
The TV presenter attended the Glamour Women of the Year Awards 2022 but shared a scary experience during her journey home.
Detailing what happened with her followers on Instagram, the Take Me Out: The Gossip star explained she believed she was trailed by someone, after getting off the tube and heading to her home.
“After such a wonderful night, I thought I’d be economical and get the tube home, a route I do many times,” Jackson wrote.
“Unfortunately last night I was followed by a really strange man. That feeling when someone’s watching you on the train, gets off at your stop, walks closely next to you and waits for you to walk ahead to follow you.”
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Sensing that something didn’t feel right, Jackson said she called her sister and walked back to the station.
“I’ve never felt so sure something would have happened,” she continued.
Despite Transport for London (TFL) workers offering to walk her home, Jackson says her sister came to pick her up.
But the experience took its toll on the presenter.
“I spooked [sic] by my own shadow in my own home all night – something I’ve never experienced,” she added.
Jackson added her frustration that the darker evenings are having an impact on how safe people feel getting home.
“It’s absolute BULLS**T now it’s winter we don’t feel safe to walk home at night,” she wrote. “I honestly believe my morning would have been different had I not headed back to the station.”
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Getting home safely: the facts
Jackson certainly isn’t alone in feeling somewhat unsafe getting home after dark.
Recent statistics by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed one in two women and one in seven men felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a quiet street near their home, while four out of five women and two out of five men felt unsafe walking alone after dark in a park or other open space.
Of those who reported feeling unsafe after dark, four in 10 had altered their behaviour, as a result, including stopping going to streets or areas that they think are unsafe, walking in quiet places or leaving home alone.
Commenting on the results, Nick Stripe, head of the crime statistics branch at ONS said the findings reveal that while men and women both feel less safe after dark, the extent to which women feel unsafe is significantly greater.
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What to do if you think you are being followed on your way home
Lancashire police have put together some tips on staying safe while out and about, which includes some advice on what to do if you feel unsafe while on your way home, including trusting your instincts.
“If you feel worried about a person, route or situation try to find a safe way out,” Lancashire police advises. “Change the direction you are walking in, shout help, walk towards a group of people or takeaway, flag down a passing car, ring the police.
“If you are wrong it doesn’t matter, if you are right it could make all the difference.”
It also provides some tips to help you stay safe including trying to stay with at least one friend, planning journeys home in advance and telling someone what time you are expected home.
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Avoiding shortcuts through unlit car parks, alleyways or isolated areas is also recommended.
“If it looks unsafe trust your instincts and go a different way that is more public,” the advice continues. “If you have to pass a danger spot like an unlit park for example or a single isolated car parked with the engine running, try to minimise the danger – cross onto the other side and try to plan what you would do if you were threatened. Can you stay near a group walking the same way?”
Other tips include using routes you know well, are lit and busy, walking on the footpath, not the road and face oncoming traffic so you can see it approaching.
There is also some advice for those relying on public transport to get home which includes carrying a timetable with you so you don’t have to wait for ages after just missing a bus/train.
Lancashire police also suggest trying to find a visible place to wait, for example a lit shop front could be safer than an unlit bus shelter. “Some businesses have CCTV outside so this could be a safer place to wait until your transport is approaching,” the site adds.
The British Transport Police (BTP) police are keen to urge anyone to contact them if they feel they are being followed on their way home via the railway network.
“Everyone has the right to travel home without fear of harassment,” BTP Detective Chief Inspector Nia Mellor, tells Yahoo UK.
“If you feel as if you are being followed, harassed, or intimidated as you travel on the railway network – we want to hear about it so we can take action.
“Approach one of our officers, speak to a member of rail staff, or report it using our discreet 61016 text number or via the Railway Guardian app. We can dispatch officers to a location if required or speak to you at a convenient time.
“No report is too small or too trivial and we will always take you seriously.”
You could also consider carrying a personal attack alarm, where it can easily be reached, and being prepared to use it if you feel in danger.
Michelle Roycroft, chief ambassador for personal safety app, Help Me Angela, and former MET police officer has put together some further tips on what to do if you think you’re being followed.
Vary your route and avoid being predictable
If you think you are being followed don’t go down any alleyways or through parks, stick to main routes.
See if you can get a description of the person you believe to be following you
Raise the alarm if you feel like you are in immediate danger.