April 14, 2019

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Sex attacks involving dating apps on the rise – police figures

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Leon Neal

The variety of recorded sexual offences involving on-line dating websites and apps has nearly doubled in the final 4 years, police figures counsel.

Offences the place a dating website was talked about in a police report elevated from 156 in 2015, to 286 final 12 months, in accordance with figures from 23 of the 43 forces in England and Wales.

The Online Dating Association mentioned apps attempt to defend customers from hurt.

But the National Police Chiefs’ Council mentioned companies had an obligation to do extra.

The figures reveal that between 2015 and 2018 there have been a complete of two,029 recorded offences – together with sexual offences – the place a web-based dating web site or app was talked about in a police report.

In 2015, 329 offences have been recorded, in comparison with 658 recorded offences final 12 months.

‘They ought to double-verify’

Victims informed BBC’s 5 Live Investigates extra ought to be completed by the firms working the apps to forestall predators from utilizing them to hunt out victims.

They known as on firms to ask for proof of ID paperwork and to hold out legal report checks to forestall offenders from utilizing dating apps to focus on victims.

Katherine Smith, 26, was stabbed to loss of life by Anthony Lowe in September 2017, two months after they met on the web site Plenty of Fish.

Ms Smith was stabbed 33 occasions, receiving wounds to her again, coronary heart and lungs.

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Family Photo

Image caption

Debbie Smith and her daughter, Katherine

Lowe pleaded responsible to homicide at Cardiff Crown Court final 12 months and was jailed for at least 18 years.

His trial heard how Lowe faked his id to satisfy Ms Smith, saying he was 10 years youthful and that his identify was Tony Moore. He didn’t point out his legal previous.

Katherine’s mom, Debbie, mentioned: “They ought to double-verify folks earlier than they allow them to on to those websites, it is really easy.

“If Katherine had recognized he had a legal report she would not have gone out with him.”

Ten million folks

The National Police Chiefs’ Council mentioned companies have a social accountability to forestall abuse on their platforms.

“This would help regulation enforcement to pay attention sources on offenders who pose the most hurt to the most susceptible in our society.”

George Kidd, chief govt of the Online Dating Association which represents a few of the on-line dating and app firms, mentioned they’re unable to do legal report checks on customers however do work with police and are dedicated to doing all they will to assist preserve folks secure.

“A 3rd of relationships begin this fashion and 10 million folks use them in the UK. It’s a part of our social material, we need to have fun it and ensure it is secure,” he mentioned.

Match Group, which owns Plenty of Fish, mentioned it makes use of “business-main automated and guide moderation and overview instruments, methods and processes – and spends hundreds of thousands of {dollars} yearly – to forestall, monitor and take away individuals who have interaction in inappropriate behaviour from our apps”.

“Match Group takes the security, safety and effectively-being of our customers very severely – we take into account it our high precedence,” it added.

You can hear extra on 5 Live Investigates at 11:00 BST on Sunday 14 April – or catch up later on BBC Sounds.

If you’ve been affected by little one sexual abuse, sexual abuse or violence, assist and help is out there.

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