The number of rape allegations related to online dating have increased more than 450 per cent in five years, according to new figures.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) reports that 184 people made allegations of rape in 2015, compared to just 33 in 2009.
As the Independent reports, with more than 9 million people now estimated to be using dating apps in the UK, the NCA is urging users to be careful.
The Get Safe Online advice website, which is supported by the Government, has offered up these five tips to staying safe when meeting someone in real life for the first time:
1. Plan it. Say it. Do it
It’s your date. Agree on what you both want from it before you meet up. Don’t feel pressured to meet before you’re ready or for any longer than you’re comfortable with – a short first date is fine.
2. Meet in public. Stay in public
The safest plan is to meet somewhere public and stay somewhere public. . Make your own way there and back and don’t feel pressured to go home with your date. If you feel ready to move to a private environment, make sure your expectations match your date’s.
3. Get to know the person, not the profile
The way people interact online isn’t always the same face-to-face. Don’t be offended if your date is more guarded when meeting in person. or if things don’t progress as fast face-to-face.
4. Not going well? Make your excuses and leave
Don’t feel bad about cutting a date short if you’re not keen. You don’t owe the other person anything, no matter how long you’ve been chatting or what’s been suggested.
5. If you’re raped or sexually assaulted on your date, help is available
No matter what the circumstances, sexual activity against your will is a crime. Police and charities are here to help and support you. Contact Rape Crisis or The Survivors Trust.