Police have issued a warning to Lancashire folk who use online dating after a man was jailed for sex offences against women he met on a website.
Scott Lazenby, aged 27, of Swift Close, Kidsgrove, Staffordshire, was sentenced last month at Burnley Crown Court to seven years in prison and a 13 year sexual harm prevention order for two counts of rape, one count of assault by penetration and one count of sexual assault, following attacks which took place just four days apart.
The first incident occurred on November 3 2015 in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, at the victim’s home address. He sexually assaulted the 20-year-old woman while her eight-month-old child was present.
The second incident occurred on November 72015 in Colne, when Lazenby attended the home address of a second victim, aged 24. He sexually assaulted her and then raped her twice.
He had met both women on dating website Plenty of Fish, aka ‘POF’.
Now police are urging those who use this or similar sites to take safety precautions to keep themselves safe.
*Doing research – search your date online, make sure they are who they say they are and you are happy with what they have told you
*Not divulging your address or other key personal information.
*Remaining in public for the first few dates and not getting into a car alone with a stranger.
*Letting a friend know who you’re meeting, where you’re meeting, how to reach you and when you’ll be home. Arrange for that friend to call you during the date, letting your date that someone knows where you are.
Detective Sergeant Sheralyn Melton, of the East Lancashire Public Protection Unit, said: “Most users on dating websites are sincere and honest in the information they provide and their reasons for joining, however Lazenby has proved there are exceptions.
“The victims in this case met Lazenby in good faith but were subjected to horrific attacks, for which he is now serving a significant stretch behind bars.
“We would now urge all online daters of any age, gender or background to take precautions to keep themselves safe online. This also includes protecting themselves financially.
“We would also like to stress that no matter what the circumstances, sexual activity against somebody’s will is a crime. If anyone has been the victim of a sexual offence, we would urge them to come forward and report it to us in the knowledge that we take all reports seriously and ensure that victims are treated sensitively and professionally at all times.”
More advice and information about safer online dating can be found at https://www.lancashire.police.uk/help-advice/online-safety/online-dating/ or www.getsafeonline.org.
To report a crime contact police on 101, or in an emergency dial 999.