In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, the charity Crimestoppers has joined with Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, to make the public aware of some of the dangers that can occur when using dating apps or dating websites.
Over 10 million people in the UK are registered with dating sites and it’s believed one in five relationships start online.
However, reported crime relating to online dating have doubled over the last five years, including crimes such as rape, sexual assault, stalking, scams and even murder. It’s believed many crimes are not reported because of fear, trauma or embarrassment.
Those who use dating apps or websites should carefully read the safety advice that they provide and also the useful advice on the Get Safe Online and Crimestoppers websites on how to stay safe.
Some simple steps can stop you becoming a victim; tell a friend where you are going and who you are meeting, meet in a public place, be very careful on your first date, make sure that a drug is not added to your drink and if you become a victim then always report any attacks or threats to the police.
Gary Murray, North West Regional Manager for the charity Crimestoppers, said: “Many people now use dating apps and internet sites to meet a new partner, but they need to be mindful of the potential dangers there may be in meeting a stranger whose online presence may be very different from real life.”
“It is vital that anyone who has been a victim of a crime or has major concerns for their safety or the safety of others after meeting someone though these sites reports this to the police.”
“Often the victims of such crimes are reluctant to come forward, but friends, family or work colleagues are aware and I would urge them to report these either to the police or to our charity completely anonymously.”
“Since we began over 31 years ago we have always kept our guarantee of anonymity to everyone who trusts us with their crime information. Call 0800 555 111 or use our online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.”
Peter McCall, Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Dating apps are increasing in popularity and, in this day and age, more and more people are meeting their partners online.
“We’re not asking people to delete their dating apps – we just want everyone to use them wisely and be safe if you decide to meet someone in person.
“Simple steps can create a safer and more enjoyable evening for those involved, such as meeting in a public place that you are familiar with, make sure your family, friends or even a colleague know where you are and who you are meeting with, and do not get in their car.”
“If you do feel uncomfortable while on the date make an excuse to leave alone or ask the employees in your meeting place that you need help to leave.
“However, if the person you are meeting takes advantage of the situation please report it to the police on 101 or 999 if it’s an emergency. Crimestoppers is also a fantastic charity where you can pass on what you know whilst staying 100% anonymous.”
To stay 100% anonymous please contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online www.crimestoppers-uk.org.