By Alan Bell of the Scottish Centre for Personal Safety

* * * * * * * * * *

BACK in January, we were asked to provide a personal safety/self defence course for female runners in Aberfoyle following incidents where lone females jogging through wooded areas were being stalked or chased by a male.

In some cases, the woman had to hide in the forest to escape.

In February, we were asked to run another course for female runners, this time in Milngavie following incidents of a man matching the description of the one in Aberfoyle chasing after lone female runners in wooded areas but this time he also flashed at them and on one occasion appeared naked.

This is obviously a worrying escalation by this guy. Chasing women is one thing, flashing is another but appearing naked in front of them as they jog past made me worry about what he would try next.

In March and April, we ran courses for female running groups in both Glasgow and Cumbernauld, so I thought it would be a good idea to give some advice on what to do if this happened to you – either when out running in wooded areas or even in a secluded street.

Obviously, in any situation where you feel threatened, our advice is to run away. It worked in the cases of the women who could run fast and the ones who deviated into the forest and hid behind trees and boulders. But if you’re jogging along a road, what do you do then?

READ MORE: Ardrossan man named as finalist in Scottish edition of the Ex-Forces in Business Awards

Well, if it’s during the day you should head towards more public areas, shops or petrol stations where there is plenty of CCTV and people to help you should you get attacked.

If you’re in a quiet area at night-time, and someone is gaining on you, you should cross the street. This will allow the person you were unsure of to pass you buy, at a safe distance, on the other side of the road.

But what if he (or she) crossed the street too and are back to following you, and gaining on you, again?

Our advice is to cross over the road again, back to your original side. The person you think is following you may not be. They be innocently heading home or need to cross the road for some reason.

But what if they cross the road again too? Now you know they are following you. It could still be innocent – they may want to ask you where the nearest taxi or bus stop is or they may be thinking of attacking you. Now what do you do?

Our advice is to turn around and face them. Running just gets you out of breath and possibly attacked from behind. Facing this person means you can identify them later, you can defend yourself and you can make them think twice about attacking you. How?

READ MORE: The Ardross-man: Spotlight on Tai Chi and Qigong

By asking why are they following you and saying “I know you from somewhere…do you work in Asda?” or “What are you doing? I know your mum, what do you think she’ll say when she hears you're following women?” or something similar. This puts doubt into a potential attacker’s mind. Do you recognise them from somewhere? Do you know their mum? Is it worth the risk?

The whole time you’re doing this, you are in a defensive stance – left foot forward, right foot back, knees slightly bent, hands out in front of you with palms open. Now you’re ready to hit out if need be…but chances are, after putting doubt in their mind about recognising them, they will leave you alone.

Next time, I’ll tell you about warning signs and danger signs which will tell you exactly when you’re about to be attacked.

If you or your group would like to book a personal safety/self defence course with us, or learn more about the work our charity does, visit or search for ScotCPS on your social media pages.