how to be an active bystander

When you see discrimination and abuse happening, what do you do?


The skills needed to be an active bystander will make you a better ally to those in need and keep you safe.

tips on being an active bystander:

  • what is an active bystander?:

When you witness someone else struggling in a public place, active bystanders step up to help that person.

If you see a friend or a stranger being harassed, do what you can to help but always take care of yourself first. Never put yourself in physical danger and use the safety of a group whenever possible.

If someone is in immediate danger, always call 999.

Anyone can be an active bystander. When an opportunity to help someone arises, you just need to take it – but it is essential that you keep yourself safe in the process. Our guide will show you how.

tips for intervening safely:

  • call out negative behaviour, tell the person to stop:

Do this as a group if you can. Be polite and remain calm – if you go in with aggression, you might make things worse. Don’t physically intervene – you could get hurt.

  • try and get the victim out of the situation:

Tell them they need to take a phone call, or strike up a conversation. Any excuse to get them away to safety.

  • if that doesn’t work, try distracting them:

Or redirect the situation by starting a conversation with the perpetrator to allow their potential target to move away or have friends intervene.

  • check the victim is ok – especially if they are alone:

They might be in shock or feeling upset. Give them space or listen to them if they want to talk. Ask if they’d like you to stay with them. Encourage them to call a friend.


Have you experienced or witnessed a crime? You can report it quickly and easily online using the button below.

tips for reporting to the police:

  • if it safe to do so, take a photograph or video:

If you can, reassure the victim that you’re taking it for evidence and not for any other reason.

  • make notes – include as much detail as you can:
    Do this as soon as you can, while you remember clearly:
  • What time did it happen?

  • Was there a car number plate?

  • Descriptions of the people involved.

  • Did you catch any names?

  • report to the authorities when it is safe to do so:

Safety is in numbers, so take a buddy to get help and try not to leave the victim alone unless you have to.

    You don’t need to go to a police station to report a crime:
  • Call 999 for emergencies

  • Call 111 if it is no longer urgent

  • Report it online.