This #bar code-word will #keep you #safe if your #internet date turns #nasty


People whose internet date turns out to be a disaster and they wind up feeling under threat will be able to escape and get help by using a special safe-word – Angela.

The national “Ask for Angela” campaign will come to Plymouth’s pubs and clubs this Christmas with 135 bars in the city’s Pubwatch and Best Bar None schemes already being told they can go live with the project.

The national scheme was created as internet dating has increased the risk of vulnerable people hooking up with someone who may not be all they professed to be online.

It encourages anyone in difficulty or under threat to approach bar staff and simply “ask for Angela”.

Staff are trained to recognise the code-word and take action.

They will take the vulnerable person to a place of safety – possibly even a “safe room” – or arrange for them to be transported home.

The Ask for Angela scheme, which has a name coming from the term “guardian angel”, is being brought in following concerns women, particularly female students, can be put in a vulnerable position on a night out.

This has been heightened since the advent of internet dating, which has led to women sometimes ending up with a man whose intentions may not be honourable.

But the scheme also encompasses vulnerable men and members of the LGBT community.

Richard Smith, chairman of Plymouth Pubwatch, said: “Ask for Angela will be going live from our venues from today.

“That’s Plymouth wide, 135 venues, including Torpoint.

“We will have posters in toilets and train our staff.”

Mr Smith, also South West regional representative for Pubwatch nationally, added: “It’s a national campaign to protect a person, male or female, if they need help to get away safely.

“That could mean a taxi or friend is called, or they are put in a safe place, a safe area on the premises.

“If people need it at any time it will be available around Christmas.”

He said it is voluntary for bars to be included but is being encouraged.

“As a group we are suggesting it’s the way forward,” he said.

Jay McDonnell, chairman of BBN Plymouth, initially highlighted the scheme earlier in 2017.

At the annual BBN awards event, at the Crowne Plaza in October 2017, he said: “Ask for Angela is coming to Plymouth. We have been speaking about this for many months, a lot of background work has gone into this to ensure the scheme does work.

“We have done a couple of trials and training sessions which went well.”

At the same event Supt Craig Downham, from Plymouth police, said: “Let’s get Ask for Angela up and running.”

The Ask for Angela scheme was first used in Lincolnshire, but was soon adopted elsewhere, including by the Met Police in London.

Hollywood movie star Ashton Kutcher even backed the scheme in a tweet to fans.