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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Resources  /  Safety  /  Risk Assessment  /  Fieldwork Risk Assessment  /  Hazard Tables  /  Dealing with the Public

Dealing with the Public

Other People's Homes

Risks Associated Control Measures
Associated Risks
  • See also Lone working
  • See also Animals - other people's pets
Risk of personal attack/abuse
  • Do not enter the house if the appropriate person is not available.
  • Wait to be invited in or at least ask to enter.
  • Acknowledge that it is their territory; let them lead the way.
  • If the person is drunk or aggressive, do not enter.
  • Ensure you can get out quickly if necessary.
  • If you feel threatened, make an excuse to leave.
Causing offence, leading to abuse/attack
  • Try not to react to dirty or smelly surroundings.
  • Do not spread your belongings around.
  • Take care with documents you may not want them to see, but avoid being "secretive".
  • Let them know how much of their time you will need.

 

Unexpected Behaviour

Risks Associated Control Measures
Risk of personal attack/abuse due to misunderstanding of nature of work.
  • Be aware of any delicate issues involved with discussions or interviews e.g. before asking a farmer questions regarding his land management, explain why you need to know.
  • Ensure landowners and their employees know who you are and what you are doing.
Aggressive Behaviour
  • Do not underestimate the importance of body language.
  • Talk yourself out of problems; placate rather than provoke.
  • Do not turn your back on someone who is behaving aggressively.
  • Stay Calm, speak gently and slowly.
  • Do not be enticed into an arguement.
  • Avoid an aggressive stance. Crossed arms, hands on hips or raised hands will challenge and confront.
  • Keep your distance.
  • Never try to touch someone who is angry - this will not calm the situation.
  • Keep your eye on potential escape routes
Physical attack
  • Try to get away as quickly as possible. Move towards a place where you know there will be other people.
  • Carry a personal alarm - set it off as close to the aggressor's ear as possible and then throw it out of reach.
  • Shout and scream - shout something practical like "call the police!" or "Fire!" - people rarely react to cries of "help!" or "rape!"
  • If grabbed and unable to break free - pretend to vomit. This will often have the desired effect!

 

Dealing With Strangers

Risks Associated Control Measures
Causing offence, leading to abuse/attack
  • Seek training in good interview techniques.
  • Where possible "vet" interviewees first.
  • Conduct interviews at neutral locations or where neither party could be at risk.
  • Where possible conduct any interviews with an observer.
  • Seek advice and support from local groups.
  • Do not wear clothes that might cause offence.

 

Public Places

Risks Associated Control Measures
Causing offence, leading to abuse/attack
  • Do not stand in places where you will be causing an obstruction.
  • Always carry your ID card and be prepared to identify yourself.
  • Seek training in good interview techniques.
  • Consider your dress carefully - is it suitable for the location.
  • Make sure you have sought permission from relevant authorities to work in your chosen location.