Travelling back at night

Make sure you arrive safe and sound

For a city of almost nine million people, London is remarkably safe. Newspaper headlines may sometimes be lurid but statistics show that, on the whole, the city is very safe. As a London visitor your chief concern is likely to avoid becoming a victim of pick pocketing, bag snatching or mugging. Although these crimes are on a downward trend after the 2002 introduction of the Government’s ‘Street Crime Initiative’, as a newcomer to London, it is natural to be cautious, particularly after dark. Luckily, there are measures you can take to reduce your risk of adding to the crime statistics. These are particularly important when you have been enjoying a night out in the city. It is usually best to think about how you will get back to your hotel before you leave. Alcohol and general jollity may not make for the wisest decision-making later on.

As a woman living in London for the last 8 years, I can literally count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been scared late at night. If you stick to busy areas and streets, you’re not going to get yourself into trouble.
- Natalie, London Resident

On foot

You may be close enough to walk and, in central London, there is no reason not to do so. The streets are well lit and usually busy at all times of day and night. Keep your bag closed and close to your body, resist the temptation to wear headphones, remember that traffic drives on the left, and you should be fine.

By Bus

Many of London’s buses run all night. If your hotel is in central London, you will certainly be able to use one of these regular bus services. If you are staying further out, you may need to use the night bus network, which comes into operation after 11.30pm. Night buses run less frequently than their daytime equivalents but bus stops are lit and, particularly in central London, well used. Once on the bus, it is sensible to sit near the driver. Buses have CCTV for extra security.

By Tube

Patrolled by London Transport Police, parts of the London Underground network run all night. On the Central line, trains run between White City and Leytonstone, Leytonstone to Loughton and Hainault, and Ealing Broadway to White City. Northern line services run between Morden and Camden Town, and Camden Town to High Barnet and Edgware. Piccadilly line trains run between Cockfosters and Heathrow Terminal 5. Finally, the entire Jubilee line operates all night. It is worth checking a London online travel guide whenever you are in the city, as there is talk of extending the night Tube service further.

As soon as we got in, I realised the driver was drunk. But by then it was too late. We were already on the move. It was terrifying. I still can’t believe we made it home in one piece. It was years ago now, but I’ve never got in an unlicensed taxi since.
- Jane, Crouch End

By Taxi

Taxis are always popular, and London has a variety of options. The tried and trusted black Hackney cabs are a good bet, if pricey. Their drivers are registered, licensed and have passed “the Knowledge”, testing them on their intimate knowledge of London’s network of streets. You can hire black cabs on the street, although in some places, particularly the Square Mile, you will find that almost every black cab apparently idling at the kerb is waiting for a pre-booked passenger. Once in a black cab, you do not need to worry about having sufficient cash or asking the cabbie to stop at an ATM; all black cabs now accept card payments, including contactless.

There are also plenty of privately-run minicab firms. Minicabs are not allowed to pick up passengers from the street. If you choose a minicab, make sure yours is registered and licensed. There are too many pirate operatives.
The taxi-calling app, Uber, has now been banned in London (although might be reinstated). It appears it is still operating but it is doing so outside the law, meaning you should look for alternative means of travel.

However you travel, you will not be alone. Hundreds of thousands enjoy London’s nightlife every day, and the vast majority of them never encounter any problems getting home again.