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Dangerous Dating: Why Crimes Involving Dating Apps Have Doubled In The Last Four Years

Dangerous Dating: Why Crimes Involving Dating Apps Have Doubled In The Last Four Years

Dating apps have become the new social norm but everybody is wondering: are they really safe? Apparently, crimes involving dating apps have doubled.

Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have become the new social norm and most of the time they’re a bit of harmless fun. For most of us, the worst that could happen is we might get a rude message or go on a dodgy date but now with crimes involving dating apps on the rise, it begs the question, how safe are they really?

The facts

Data gathered from 23 out of 43 police forces in England and Wales found that crimes involving dating apps have doubled since 2015. The total number of offences that mention dating apps have risen from 329 in 2015 to 658 cases in 2018. Out of the total number of cases in 2015, 156 of them were reported to be of a sexual nature and they increased to 286 in 2018. Other crimes involved stalking, blackmail, violence and murder.

Since millions of us use dating apps in the UK, the number may seem comparatively small. However, as crimes on dating apps are a relatively new area for police, this dramatic increase is a worrying trend.

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Why the increase in crime on dating apps?

According to the National Crime Agency, most dating app crimes occur when the victim and the perpetrator meet face-to-face for the first time. Dating apps foster a sense of familiarity with someone before you’ve even met them and yet they can be completely anonymous. These apps are also free and easy to sign up to and you can interact with prospective partners from the comfort of your own home.

Dating apps have been known to create a certain level of expectation. Who among us hasn’t heard of Tinder being used as a quick fix to get laid? Sadly, it breeds a new kind of offender who takes advantage of the duality of the familiar and the stranger.

It feels like you know someone at least a little bit once you’ve been chatting, even if you’ve never met. It’s this trust that gets abused because it’s easy to forget that we don’t really know who we’re talking to.

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More should be done

Many victims are calling for online dating apps to do more to protect their users by having ID checks in place. Debbie Smith, the mother of Katherine who was murdered in 2017 by a man she met online, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “They should double-check people before they let them onto these sites, it’s so easy. If Katherine had known he had a criminal record she wouldn’t have gone out with him.”

According to the Online Dating Association, such background checks are just not feasible. Instead, they try to moderate, monitor and remove people intent on doing harm. They also work closely with the police to crack down on criminal behaviour.

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How to stay safe on dating apps

Dating apps like Tinder were designed to be a harmless bit of fun but now with one in three relationships starting online, it’s clear that they’ve become part of our way of life. It’s easy then to be complacent about how we interact with people online.

After flirting with someone they feel more familiar to us but they’re still no more than a stranger. From a young age, stranger-danger is drummed into us; stay away from people in case they do us harm.

The same applies online. Protect yourself and don’t share any information that might compromise you (phone number, address etc) no matter how much they beg and flatter you. Be on the defensive and trust your gut. If you feel unsafe or if they try to pressure you in any way, report them to the dating site and the police if you have to.

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If you agree to meet someone face-to-face, tell your friends and family where you’re going and with whom. Stick to busy public places and if you decide to go somewhere more private make sure you’re expectations are both the same.

Do you agree that more should be done to protect users on dating apps? Let us know in the comments!

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