February Crime Prevention Blog

Online Dating Safety by Crime Prevention & Architectural Liaison Officer Gerry McBride

Gerry Valentine’s Day is almost here, and people everywhere will be purchasing gifts for those that they love, and there will be millions more hoping to meet that special individual.

In this digital age, there a lot of people who look for love online, via the numerous dating websites, so this month I’m going to provide you with some safety tips, for use when using these websites. I’m also going to explain a little about Clare’s Law, which is a check that you can carry out if you are already in a relationship.

It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to you, but people online aren’t always who they say they are, so trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, then it likely isn’t. Consider using reverse image lookup for their profile picture, or any other photographs they display. You can use ‘Google’s Reverse Image Search’ for that. A recent check by one of our staff, using one of the social media channels, revealed that a supposed genuine profile picture was being used multiple times (75 to be exact) by different accounts with different names!

Get Safe Online www.getsafeonline.org are running a campaign from 1st February looking at safety around online dating, check out their Facebook & Twitter for more information.
Here are a few tips to help keep you safe.
• Don’t disclose private information on online dating sites.
• Keep initial contact on the dating site platform; don’t move to other social media until you are happy that the person you are talking to appears genuine.
• Ask as many questions as possible about the person and don’t rush into a relationship. Don’t feel pressured to meet before you are ready.
• Never send money to anyone that you are talking to, no matter what their story.
• Don’t share any personal images, once you press ‘send’ you can never get these images back.
• Talk to friends and family about your online relationships, and always tell someone where and when, if you decide to meet.
• Download and familiarise yourself with the free personal safety app ‘Hollie Guard’, available on Windows, Apple and Android devices.
• Always meet and stay in a public place.
• Don’t be afraid to get up and leave if things aren’t going well.
• If you are consuming alcohol, limit the amount, and only take a drink that you’ve seen being poured. Never leave a drink unattended!
• Ideally have your own transport.

You may have got to know someone online; however, they are still a stranger to you. Get to know them in the ‘real world’ before inviting them into your home and personal life.

Clare’s Law

Clare’s Law was launched in 2011 following the murder of Clare Wood, by her partner, whom she met online, who had a history of violence towards women. Under this scheme, police can disclose convictions/non-convictions to individuals in an intimate relationship, from domestic abuse related incidents and other verifiable information to which the police have access.

This is a completely confidential service and your partner will never find out that you have asked. By requesting a disclosure you are giving yourself the best opportunity to make the right choice about your future relationship.

You can make a Clare’s Law disclosure request in person at a police station, by calling 101 or by speaking to a police officer in person.

Don’t let your partners’ past ruin your future!
If you have any information about a crime, contact the police on 101 or you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.