Peterborough residents who are looking for love in the run up to Valentines’ Day are being warned to take care on online dating sites.
With dating site traffic at its peak, it is as vital for the public to exercise caution while looking for love online.
Cambridgeshire police have launched a week-long campaign today. During the campaign officers from the Rape Investigation Team (RIT) will be hosting drop-in sessions across the county to give advice on how to reduce your risk when using online dating apps.
A focal point of the campaign will be to reduce the number of rapes and sexual assaults reported in the county following contact through internet dating websites and apps.
Detective Inspector Iain Moor said: “Online dating is becoming an increasingly popular way of meeting people, with the vast majority of people using dating services in a healthy, safe way.
“Despite this, some predators choose online dating platforms as a way to target people. Although sadly we can’t stop people from acting inappropriately online, we can urge members of the public to be vigilant and report any illicit activity.
“We will always stand by survivors of sexual violence and will do everything we can to bring offenders to justice.”
The campaign will be supported by the Online Dating Association (ODA), a regulatory body dedicated to maintaining an industry standard for online dating service providers.
As well as providing guidance to prevent dating service users from being targeted physically, the ODA’s ‘Date Safe’ scheme provides best-practice advice to avoid online fraud.
The ODA’s Chief Executive, George Kidd said: “Online scams abound. With services enjoyed by millions, dating companies strive to keep scammers off their sites and provide safe messaging arrangements.
“Users can help us fight romance fraud by never responding to requests for money, resisting any pressure to take conversations off line and by reporting anything improper to the service provider. They can look for the ODA as an indicator the service provider is committed to industry standards.”
Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite said: “Anyone going on a date needs to be safe in the knowledge that if things are not going well, and you feel threatened in any way, there is help at hand. Saying ‘Is Angela here?’ alerts bar and club staff to the fact that you are feeling uncomfortable and need to get away. They can then order you a taxi or offer a safe place until a friend or relative can come and collect you.
“I would urge everyone to spread the advice provided to make sure dates are the enjoyable occasions they should be.”
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The scheme, which was adopted by a number of pubs across the county last year, involves people giving a simple code-word to bar or club staff.