Orange has become the latest area of NSW to introduce the Ask for Angela campaign which seeks to protect people who feel threatened on dates in pubs, clubs and licensed premises.
Racing Minister Paul Toole joined police, key members of the Orange Liquor Accord [OLA] and Orange mayor Reg Kidd on Monday to launch the program for all licensed premises in the city.
The scheme, started in England in 2016, was initially aimed at helping people who met through online dating schemes and had their first date at a licensed premises, but it now covers all dates.
If one of the couple felt hassled or threatened they can go to the bar staff and ask for ‘Angela.’
Staff across Orange are being trained to respond by safely removing the concerned person from the area and organising them a taxi to get home safely.
Canobolas Local Area Command Chief Inspector Peter Atkins urged people to be cautious meeting strangers.
“I think you need to err on the side of caution, especially when you meet someone you don’t know,” he said.
“This is another way of having a backup plan.
“If things don’t work out you can let the bar staff know either to get you home or they’ll ring police.
He said people could ‘Ask for Angela’ for several reasons.
“If you’re uneasy, if there’s a manner of stalking, a manner of intimidation, a manner of unwanted advances, all those things, you need to contact police directly or let the bar staff know to contact us on your behalf.”
Chief Inspector Atkins said people should be wary in unfamiliar situations.
“Meeting any stranger, we teach our children about Stranger Danger, and you need to take that along when you’re meeting persons older than 18,” he said.
“You don’t know who you’re meeting, be aware of the circumstances.”
Mr Toole praised the OLA for introducing the campaign.
“This is another initiative that the [OLA] is taking up to keep people safe in the community,” he said.
Mr Toole said Orange followed Wagga Wagga, Manning and Albury areas in introducing the scheme.
“I expect it to be rolled out right across NSW,” he said.
OLA spokesman Cameron Provost said it was a “positive initiative” for all people on dates in licensed premises.
“It is a communication tool for everybody to use,” he said.
Mayor Reg Kidd said it was a community effort.
“Orange leads the way in a lot of things and this is just another example,” he said.
Cr Kidd said it was good that issues were being addressed and not “hidden behind the curtain.”