Online dating and safety:

Follow all safety advice given on dating websites.

Don't disclose personal information such as address, telephone number or workplace to unknown persons online.

Keep all communications with unknown persons through the dating website channels and not via personal communications such as social media. Many dating website and forums will have rules to protect users from people using the site incorrectly.

Report any suspicious or offensive behaviour to the online dating site.

Consider creating a username that doesn’t reveal too much about yourself.

When chatting with someone online it’s better to talk about where you’ve been rather than where you’re going.

Turn off your geo-location tags on your phone, before sending images to someone else. Some mobile phones and digital cameras automatically attach data to the photo file that identifies where the picture was taken, so turning this function off helps you to avoid a situation where someone you met online, might be able to trace your movements.

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Meeting people in person:

Tell someone where you’re going, who you’re meeting (name, website arranged through etc) and check in with them before, during and after the date.

Agree that if you don’t check in as agreed or respond then your friend would call the place where you’ve met or even go there to check on you.

Take a charged phone with credit.

Take money for a taxi home/ plan a route on public transport

Try and keep the number of a local, licenced mini-cab firm with you.

Don’t give away personal information on a first date e.g. home address.

Don't leave drinks or devices such as phones unattended.

Don’t share a taxi home with someone you don’t know.

Carry a personal alarm.

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Manifesto for the Online Dating Industry:

In order to create a Safer Dating industry online dating agencies needs to work collaboratively; the industry needs to set its own high standards around personal safety and agencies need to commit to working together to create a solid foundation for greater personal safety.

We recommend the online dating sector:

Develops expertise in-house, our recommendation would be that each agency has a dedicated, trained team which deals specifically with calls which relate to complaints involving personal safety. We would further recommend that this team is trained in safeguarding.

Gain a shared understanding with the police and other relevant agencies around circumstances where you would choose to break confidentiality over a reported personal safety incident.

Works with the Violence Against Women and Girls Sector (VAWG) Suzy Lamplugh Trust would strongly recommend bringing together online dating industry leads with the police and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Sector, in order for to hold a round table session to conclude how it can share information on potential perpetrators, in what circumstances and using which mechanism.

Develop ongoing partnership working with police and VAWG agencies – agencies should identify and maintain a single point of contact within the police (one in each region) and with an expert from a VAWG agency, this would enable the agency to report, share concerns and get advice if it is known that someone is perpetrating abuse on their sites.

Amends its user terms and conditions across all dating agency websites to enable sharing of information across sites where a personal safety issue has been flagged.

Creates a Safer Online Dating Working Group – this group would hold regular meetings with representatives from ODA members to share information. This group should include police and VAWG colleagues as well as other experts who can be invited to discuss current issues. The role of the group would be to ensure personal safety remains a live topic and appropriate information is disseminated within the agency.

Set up a watch list - as a result of identifying someone demonstrating abusive behaviour that they have a 'watch list' or a list of perpetrators that is shared amongst the dating sites to alert them so any preventative action can be taken on sites where abusive behaviour has not taken place yet.

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The above is an abridged version of a list of recommendations made to the Online Dating Association in November 2015.