PUB customers who feel unsafe, harassed or fear their drink has been spiked are being encouraged to ‘Ask for Angela’.

The scheme, which is being promoted by the Poole Pubwatch group, is aimed at reducing sexual violence and vulnerability by providing customers with a non-descript phrase they can use to get the attention of staff members.

With the growth of online dating, the group says it is a useful tool for pub staff and customers to be aware of.

Anyone who feels unsafe when meeting a person for a date, particularly someone they have met online, can get help from staff by simply asking to speak to ‘Angela’.

Staff will then assist the person in leaving the venue discreetly and getting home or to a place of safety. This could mean taking the distressed person out of sight, calling for a taxi and making sure they get home okay or even asking the person causing distress to leave the venue if appropriate.

The nationwide initiative, which started in Lincolnshire in 2016, has grown in prominence, and the Poole Pubwatch group have put up posters in their premises to spread the word and encourage customers to use it.

Chairman Lauren Nolan, from Camden in Ashley Cross, said: “Poole Pubwatch has been proactively making our night time economy more welcoming and encouraging a safe and happy environment for people to enjoy themselves for several years.

“The ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme is a hugely positive thing for us to be able to use and promote and we are proud to be a part of it.”

The scheme is supported by Dorset Police. PC Trudy Gamble from Police Licensing said: “This is such a relevant topic with the growth of online dating, and we are really pleased that Poole Pubwatch are taking an active role in promoting the ‘Ask for Angela’ initiative.”

Recent figures revealed reports of drink-spiking in Dorset are the worst in a decade.

A Freedom of Information request to Dorset Police revealed the number of cases of drink-spiking have risen dramatically in the past three years - with figures in 2016 and 2017 being the highest since 2006.

In 2015 police recorded seven cases, rising to 14 reports in 2016 and 11 in 2017 - the highest figures recorded since 2006 when 21 cases were reported.