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Have you ever experienced waiting for a friend when they appear to emerge in the distance, although too far away to make out their face? Despite this, you are sure it is them because you know their walk. You know exactly their body shape, motion, swagger, the lot… you do not need to see their face, because you know it is them.

Predatory criminals use this acquired, or perhaps natural skill to their advantage. What they see in a walk is someone, who is either strong and confident – who might give them too much trouble, so perhaps best left alone; or someone who is less confident, weaker, and easy to take down.

Harvard University researchers showed videos of “women walking” to a group of male inmates – incarcerated for violence against the person (to include sexual). They were each asked to select which women they would attack. Although they all viewed the videos separately, they all selected the same women, with comments ranging from, “a bit heavy to handle” to “an easy take down”.

This brings me to the two women I have inserted into the main image, one in a mini-skirt, and the other in a long tight skirt. A father seeing his daughter going out on a Saturday night might be less concerned with the more conservative dress code; yet in the world of rational violent offenders, who do not wish to get caught, the least attractive target would be the girl on the left. Her short skirt allows her to kick out, and her shoes give her greater stability and balance. The lady on the right however, with stiletto heels, is easy to knock off balance, and her skirt prevents her from kicking out.

Our characteristics, our moods, and thus our strengths and weaknesses are easily identifiable through our walking styles, which in fact is how predatory animals select their prey from the herds. Therefore, whenever walking in a public place – it is important to walk around like you own the place!

As the winter evenings draw in, and the street lights across the UK come on at about the same time kids are walking home from school, followed by workers heading towards public transport hubs, we need to be reminded that the types of people who live within our prison system, also live outside it, although in greater numbers.

School uniforms need to reflect the risks kids face from these very real threats; however some school uniform policies are reportedly continuing to prohibit girls from wearing trousers.

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