Advice on dating agencies

From the Suzy Lamplugh Trust

Many dating agencies make no checks at all. Rules surrounding them appear to be non-existent. Anyone can start a dating agency - they don't have to be licensed or registered and once the agency has been set up there are no statutory checks on how it is run.

Unfortunately, joining an agency which charges a higher fee is no guarantee that you'll get better service or that security vetting of potential clients will be carried out. In fact, many agencies have pointed out that unless they have access to police records, they can never be entirely certain about the backgrounds of their clients. It is impossible to rule out all risks when using a dating agency, but there are some basic safety rules you can follow to increase your security.

Only use dating agencies that carry out personal interviews. Don't use an agency that relies on postal questionnaires.

Make sure the agency will never give out your surname or address to other clients. Some agencies will only withhold your details if you specifically request it.

Join an established agency, with a good reputation, which asks clients for proof of identity and guarantees all applicants are vetted. Check to see if the agency belongs to the Association of British Introduction Agencies. (Tel: 020 7937 2800).

Midsummer's Eve IS a member of the ABIA - the FIRST and ONLY online dating sites to be accepted as full members!)

When you are making a date on the telephone, never give personal details such as your address or surname. It is also not unknown for address details to be obtained by just having a telephone number, so again be very guarded about giving out your telephone number

Always arrange to meet in a busy public place, preferably in daytime, until you are sure of the other person's identity and feel comfortable with them.

Arrange meetings in a place where you will be able to get away easily.

Take a friend along, at least in the beginning, to meet your date and ask them to come back at a pre-arranged time. Work at a pre-arranged signal with your friend to indicate whether you would prefer your friend to stay with you.

Tell someone where you are going, who with (including as many details as possible) and when you'll be back.

Initially don't go home with your date, DON'T invite them back to your home or accept lifts.

Pay attention to your instincts. If you feel uneasy about someone, there may be a reason. If you do feel uncomfortable for any reason, don't tell yourself that you are 'being silly'. If you don't feel happy in the situation don't give them any personal details about yourself and don't arrange a second date.

Copyright The Suzy Lamplugh Trust 2000. Registered Charity 802567

This article has been reprinted with the kind permission of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust.