Overall, downtown Winnipeg is just as safe as other areas of the city. However, these tips will help keep you feeling safer anywhere you may travel.
Tips when approached by a panhandler
- Smile and say, “No, sorry.”
- Carry food like granola bars with you to hand out
- Refer them to a social agency for help
Discouraging aggressive panhandlers
- Walk with a purpose
- Don’t initiate conversations
- If they talk to you, don’t ignore them, because they might think you didn’t hear and may persist
- Say firmly, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
- If possible, walk away from the situation
- Call the Winnipeg Police Service and then your local foot patrol
- If you feel uncomfortable, call a foot patrol for a SafeWalk: 204-958-SAFE
The simple fact is that panhandlers will go where they get money. To discourage panhandling near your business, workplace or residence, encourage people to find a positive alternative to giving change to panhandlers.
When does a panhandler cross the line?
It is legal to panhandle, but under the City of Winnipeg’s Obstructive Solicitation By-law No. 7700/2000, a panhandler cannot:
- Block your way on a street
- Follow you after you say “no”
- Verbally threaten or insult you
- Approach you in a group of three or more
- Ask for money at a bus shelter, pay phone or bank machine
- Ask for money if you’re getting in or out of your car
- Ask for money in skywalks or indoor walkways
- Ask for money on outdoor patios of restaurants or bars where food or beverages are being served
Report aggressive panhandlers to the Winnipeg Police Service at 204-986-6222, and then contact your local community patrols:
- Downtown Watch – 204-958-SAFE (4627)
- Exchange District – 204-791-3161
- Osborne Village – 204-955-1259
- West End – 204-295-7850
Safety on the Street
- Crimes occur when they can be done quickly, quietly and without being seen. Make an impact on any one or more of these factors and you’ll reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
- Strength comes in numbers. Two is always safer than one!
- DO NOT carry weapons, but carry a personal safety alarm.
- Wear comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear.
- Stick to busy, well-lit streets!
- If carrying a purse, place it securely between your arm and body. Do not use the shoulder strap, which can be easily grabbed.
- When approached by a panhandler simply say “no, thank you” or “no, sorry.” Avoid negotiations or saying things like “I have no change” because they take bills as well!
- Do not smoke while walking down the street. Panhandlers know that if they cannot get change from you they can probably get a cigarette.
- Avoid needless displays of money.
Safety in the Office
- Maintain a presence at the entrance to your office with either a security guard or receptionist.
- Do not leave your purse or wallet unattended at your desk.
- Never leave visitors unattended in your office. Remember, just because they look the part does not necessarily mean they are supposed to be there!
- Keep restrooms locked and never prop open doors.
- Abide by all safety measures in place. You wouldn’t give out your PIN code to your bank card so why would you give out the alarm/door code at work?
- NEVER give out personal information!
- You know the fire plan, but what is your crisis management plan? Be informed.
- Ensure all doors are locked when you leave. This is important not just to protect the employer, but any colleagues who may be working after you leave.
- Tell someone if you are going to be late coming home from work.
Safety in your Vehicle
- Do no leave valuables in your car. If you must leave valuables in your car, place them in the trunk before you arrive at your location.
- Don’t leave purse or valuables in plain view both when you are driving and when you are parked.
- Drive with doors locked and the windows closed.
- Keep your gas tank a quarter full.
- Don’t pick up hitchhikers.
Interested in a personalized safety presentation? Call 204-958-4627 or send us an e-mail.