Sunday Times (London), January 18, 2004.
The story was told by an American student named Valerie Ruppel who had returned from a term’s study in London. Two days after her group reached Britain, a policewoman came to South Kensington to brief them on how to keep themselves safe.
I pick up Valerie’s account in her own words: “Her first question was to the women, ‘How many of you brought Mace?’ Three girls raised their hands. She told us we couldn’t use it, shouldn’t even carry it, it was illegal.
“Had any of us brought any other type of weapon, such as a knife? Several of the men in our group indicated that they carried pocket knives. She told us to leave them at home too.”
“Then she instructed us on how to properly be a victim. If we were attacked, we were to assume a defensive posture, such as raising our hands to block an attack.”
“The reason (and she spelt it out in no uncertain terms) was that if a witness saw the incident and we were to attempt to defend ourselves by fighting back, the witness would be unable to tell who the aggressor was. However, if we rolled up in a ball it would be quite clear who the victim was.”