[P]OLICE have teamed up with pubs in Lancaster to encourage anyone on a date who may feel uncomfortable or unsafe to ‘Ask for Angela’.
The initiative is aimed at people meeting in person for the first time after making contact through online dating websites and apps. If they do not feel comfortable or have received unwelcome advances, they can approach a member of staff and ask if ‘Angela’ is in.
Trained staff will then take them into to a safe room where they can explain their issue and get a taxi, friend or family member to pick them up.
The employee can then tell the other person to leave or call police if they believe a criminal offence has occurred.
Licensing Officer for Lancaster and Morecambe, PC Andrew Taylor, said: “Whilst the majority of people who partake in online dating are likely to be decent and genuine, there are also untruthful people posing as someone else, fraudsters and in extreme cases, sexual predators.
“We hope that this scheme will give people the confidence to know that if something goes wrong on their date and they are left feeling unsafe, they can tell someone and get home safely.
“Our implementation of this idea comes after a successful pilot by the Safer Communities Sexual Violence and Abuse Partnership in Lincolnshire and is supported by the work we do as part of ‘Operation Home-Safe’ aimed at getting people who are vulnerable through alcohol back home okay.
“Pubs in Lancaster are supporting the initiative and it is hoped we will also get some local cafes to sign up too.”
Tim Tomlinson the Chair of Lancaster Pub-watch said: “Lancaster has a well-deserved reputation as one of the safest and most welcoming places for visitors from across the county to come and enjoy. “Ask for Angela” is a new joint scheme which Lancaster Pub Watch and Lancaster Police have launched to build on this reputation. It helps provide individuals with extra reassurance when choosing to socialise in our city centre.
“If an individual is on a date or has met someone in a pub or bar, but has become uncomfortable with the situation and may wish to leave discretely, the pub can help them to do so. All the person has to do is “Ask for Angela” at the bar and the bar team will help them organise a taxi or leave the bar safely on their own.
“Lancaster is such a popular place to visit precisely because the members of Lancaster Pub Watch work together and alongside the police to make sure we keep the trouble makers out of the city centre and to look after customers if and when they may need help. “Ask for Angela”, adopted from a similar successful campaign in Lincolnshire, is another very useful string to our bows.”
It is hoped that the initiative will be rolled out in Morecambe in the coming weeks.