Dating apps lead to rise in first-date rapes

According to the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA), the number of people which reported being raped on their first date with someone they met by using a dating app has risen significantly over the last five years. In 2014 the agency received 184 rape allegations, compared to just 33 that were reported in 2009 - which is a six-fold increase.

There a now more than seven million people in the UK signed up for dating apps. With only 184 reporting rape in 2014, the NCA believes that many more incidents have occurred but have gone un-reported. The agency has encouraged victims to come forward.

The report details key statistics that were compiled by the NCA's Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS), its key findings were:

  • The victims in 85% of these offenses were female, 15% were male.
  • 42% of female victims were in the 20-29 age groups, whilst 24% were from the 40-49 age category.
  • 25% of the male victims fall within the 15-19 age group.
  • In 43% of cases, the first face-to-face meeting between the victim and the offender took place within one week of their initial contact online.
  • In 41% of cases, the victim and offender started their date at a residence.
  • 72% of offenses were committed at the victim's or offender's residence.
  • The majority of offenders - 51% - do not have a prior conviction.

The report highlights that offenders have an increased expectation of sexual activity at the first face-to-face meeting, expectations which, differ to the victim's. To help reduce the risk of rapes, the NCA advocates the use of a 'date plan' which takes into considerations the location, timing and duration of the date as well as spelling out the involved parties' expectations prior to the date, giving either of them the chance to avoid coercion.

Despite the bad news for users of online dating platforms, the National Crime Agency says that these platforms do "offer relatively safe and positive opportunities for individuals to meet prospective partners."

Source: NCA via BBC News | Image via Carroll Foundation Trust

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