From my experience, I tried getting people to run with from my school who were new to running who were fairly new to the game which worked quite well. Perhaps you can try persuading work colleagues to join you?
Another idea perhaps is to get in touch with a local running clubs. A comprehensive list is available here: http://www.runnersforum.co.uk/clubs/county/Dorset.html. Again from experience, I've found that running clubs which advertise themselves as "friendly" and "local" are quite good for beginners. It may be worth joining one and then you'll have a resevoir of runners, some are bound to be inexperienced.
There are some strange people out there but I met my husband through the internet. We've been together almost 7 years and married for 3 years.
If you do find a running partner over the internet I would suggest take your time getting to know them before meeting, always arrange to meet in a public place where there are lots of people and if you feel in the least bit uncomfortable don't meet them.
Another good place is perhaps to approach a local gym - I know that there are a couple in this neck of the woods who organize runs 1-2 times a week for members - I think they usually have a fast group and a slow group. I imagine a few gyms probably do this. Though it might be an expensive way to do it if you were forced to join the gym (but you might enjoy it - or alternatively you could find out when they meet, hide in the bushes and then join onto the back of the group! And then after a few weeks form your own splinter group...)
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