The online environment could also lull users into thinking they know someone, and therefore making themselves vulnerable.To date, much of the research on online dating has been conducted by dating companies themselves.Over the past four years, 17 people in the Greater Manchester area have reported being raped after using one of two apps, Grindr and Tinder, according to police statistics obtained by Leech through a freedom of information request.A total of 58 people were victims of online dating-related crimes in those four years, some of them sexual. For context, in 2012 the area had an overall average of 243 sexual assaults and rapes every month.) Many apps offer a page of advice for safe dating.However, it puts most of that down to increased reporting and better recording by the police.
In 2016 Stephen Port was convicted in the UK of killing four young men he met on the gay dating app Grindr.
Not all countries in which sites operate have databases such as Match’s, however, and even those that exist tend to have incomplete data.
Gregory Dickson, the judge in the Jason Lawrence case, used his in-court comments to call for a system of “automatic referral to the police,” or another agency, when complaints are made to dating companies.
Nevertheless, while app-related assaults were still rare, they were rising fast enough for the NCA to flag the emergence of “a new type of sexual offender.” Usually a man, he’s less likely than other sexual offenders to have committed any kind of crime before, but instead exploits the “ease of access and arm-chair approach” to meeting people that dating sites enable.
Of course, sexual assaults related to online dating may be on the rise just because online dating itself is on the rise.