Over the last year, more than 1,700 serious sexual offences were reported in Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire police are urging caution to people who have met through online dating sites and now have the opportunity to meet face-to-face in reopened night spots.

The constabulary has launched a campaign to reduce the number of rapes following lockdown and are reminding people of the steps they can take to ensure their safety.

Officers are also urging people to report any suspicious or concerning behaviour.

Detective Inspector Amerjit Singh, from the force’s Rape Investigation Team, said: “While the majority of people using online dating sites and apps are doing so with honest intentions, our experiences show us there are people on there who display sexual predatory behaviour.

“With lockdown restrictions easing, we are likely to see an increase in people meeting in person for the first time and we want to ensure they remain safe.

“There are a number of ways people can do this, such as meeting in a public place, having a friend call you during the date to check on you and ensuring you know as much as possible about the person you are meeting.

“People’s safety is of paramount importance to us so we are keen to hear from anyone who is concerned about the behaviour of someone they are talking to or have met online.

“This can be done online via our website or by calling 101.

“Sadly we have experienced cases where people have been seriously sexually assaulted as a result of meeting someone online and we want to do everything we can to stop this happening.”

Studies suggest that more than 10 million people use online dating services in the UK, making it the single largest source of new relationships.

DI Singh added: “Over the coming months we have a number of initiatives planned to help protect people who are using online dating, as part of wider activity to reduce the number of serious sexual assaults and rapes in the county.

“While we will always focus on ensuring those who are victims of sexual offences have the support they need and target those responsible for the crimes, we remain committed to trying to stop them happening in the first place.”

Over the last year, more than 1,700 serious sexual offences were reported in Cambridgeshire.