Sometimes all it takes is a simple ‘hello’ from a neighbour to make an elderly or vulnerable person feel less isolated and more safe, say police.

Everyone has a part to play in reducing opportunities for thieves to strike. If you’re a family member, neighbour or carer of an elderly or vulnerable person, please help to keep them safe and independent by giving them some good advice and reminding them to think about their personal safety.

Top tips to keep elderly / vulnerable people safe:

  • Think about the time of day you are going out – earlier in the day, there are usually more people about and therefore less opportunity for a vulnerable person to find themselves alone on a quiet street.  It’s always best to be out in daylight if possible.
  • If you tend to carry cash with you, keep the amount you carry to a minimum – just carry what you absolutely need for this trip. Many elderly people often carry their week’s pension with them in their purse or wallet, and if this is lost or stolen, it is significantly more distressing.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings – it’s easy to become lost in your thoughts if your trip is routine and familiar. It’s important to be aware of whether someone is acting suspiciously, walking particularly close to you or coming up quietly behind. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, walk purposefully away, cross the road, go into a shop or a nearby house, or approach another passer-by.
  • If you need to do a bigger shop, consider getting your shopping delivered so you don’t have to struggle, laden down with shopping bags.
  • It’s important to stay as independent as possible, but shopping with a friend could make a nice change and make you feel safer.
  • Consider carrying a personal attack alarm – these are available for a few pounds from most hardware or locksmith shops or online.  They usually have a key ring attached and, when the pin is pulled out, set off a loud, shrill alarm which can draw attention quickly.

If you think someone needs it, your neighbourhood policing team would be more than happy to pop round to speak to any elderly or vulnerable person for some reassurance and advice – either email us via this web page with the details, pop into your local police station or telephone 101.

Cold Callers We’re asking communities to be on their guard and to look out for vulnerable or elderly neighbours, after a number of reports of door-to-door sales people calling on residents in north Bristol. We have had reports in Clifton, Cotham, Bishopston, Stoke Bishop and Westbury-on-Trym.

The cold callers are reported to be selling cleaning equipment and other cheap goods, but they don’t have the required pedlar’s licence. Some reports state they have been aggressive, pushy and rude with residents, resulting in people feeling threatened in their own homes.

“I would also urge people to look out for their neighbours. Elderly people can be especially vulnerable due to being isolated and lonely. They may be grateful for a call at the door and a chat with whoever is calling, which unfortunately is what these people prey on. Say hello to your neighbours and make your community stronger.”

“Although they might seem like legitimate sales people, they may be looking for an opportunity to commit crime, and may see elderly or vulnerable people as easy targets.”

PC Cadden continued: “My advice would always be that it’s your doorstep, your decision. If you’re not sure, don’t open the door.