Londoners venturing into the dating world this Valentine’s Day are being urged to stay safe by downloading a new London Councils safety app.
Circle, a universal safety app that can be downloaded free on both Apple and Android phones, allows users to create a network of contacts who can be called on for help in difficult or potentially awkward situations.
Pioneered by YouTube star Hannah Witton, it was developed as part of the London Ventures portfolio of products by Xantura with support from women’s charities.
Circle was initially piloted in Southwark and Enfield but has now been rolled out across the capital, providing support for vulnerable people and becoming a key tool in improving women’s safety.
More than 104,000 people have viewed Hannah’s YouTube video about the app, in which she details her favourite places to eat and explore in London while offering tips on how to stay safe and in touch with friends.
Users can add a network of trusted friends or family members to their contacts, who can be called upon to ‘check in’, ‘collect’ or ‘interrupt’ them. Following a ‘collect/interrupt me’ message, a user’s main contact is ‘nudged’ the following day to make sure their friend is okay.
Circle uses GPS technology to broadcast a user’s location to their contacts and also promotes ‘Safe Spots’ - places to go if you get lost or feel vulnerable, where staff are trained to help. The app also allows push messaging from local authorities and users can select which notifications they would like to receive, such as safety alerts, local events and news.
Cllr Lib Peck, London Councils’ executive member for crime and public protection, said: “Lots of Londoners may be out and about meeting new people at this time of year, and it’s always a good idea to stay connected with friends and family and let them know you’re safe. Circle is a quick, easy and discreet way to do this.”