A SEXUAL violence campaign has begun after a rise in reports of crimes carried out by strangers.

As the Journal previously reported, Gloucestershire Police have matched with around 500 daters on Tinder to provide advice about consent and how to stay safe.

Detective chief inspector Mark Chicken, the lead for rape and serious sexual offences, said: "My concerns around dating sites such as Tinder and POF are that because people have been chatting online it makes them feel safe, but actually it's no different to meeting a stranger.

"It worries me in Gloucestershire that some people aren't taking the necessary precautions when meeting others after talking online.

"When dating apps are used, although the majority of time they're safe, online daters should take appropriate steps to make sure they stay safe.

"The message we're sending to everyone is that just because you have been swapping flirtatious messages it doesn't mean when you do meet up that sex is on the cards.

"If you have been a victim of rape or a serious sexual assault, it’s important to know it’s not your fault and I’d encourage you to talk to someone."

Every rape reported to Gloucestershire Constabulary this year, where people met through a dating app, took place at a residential property where they had met for the first time.

Dating websites have made finding relationships more convenient and potentially easier for many.

With this in mind the constabulary don't want to warn people away from dating sites, but just to take the advice on board and stay safe.

Louise Williams, service director at Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (GRASAC), said: "With society as it is today and with modern technology there are more opportunities to meet people for relationship purposes, for social purposes or for sex.

"What we would ask you to do is think about your expectations for why you're going to meet somebody through online dating.

"Your expectations and your intentions might be completely different from theirs."

Since January this year there have been ten recorded cases of sexual violence in the county after meetings between the offender and victim were facilitated through dating apps such as Tinder or Plenty of Fish.

From January to July last year there were four reports of crimes in relation to dating apps.