New analysis of statistics complied from police reports across England and Wales is showing an increase in Tinder/Grindr crime: said to be up sevenfold since 2013, according to the Daily Mail. The data obtained under the British Freedom of Information Act showed that police departments in the United Kingdom filed reports that mentioned Tinder and Grindr 412 times in 2015, as of October.
The Freedom of Information Act has been put under review by British Prime Minister David Cameron, as reported by the Independent. Thirty police forces in the U.K. were reported to have responded to the request made by the study. The publications state that while the dating apps were mentioned in the numbers of police reports noted that does not necessarily mean a crime was committed. However, concerns about under-reporting among married individuals and closeted gay people have also been noted.
Tinder, which is oriented around the heterosexual community, was launched in 2012, while Grindr, which was launched in 2009, caters to gay individuals seeking new relationships.
With Tinder, U.K. residents named the dating app in 255 crime reports in 2015, up 1,114 percent from 21 in 2013. Grindr was named in 135 police reports in 2015, up 297 percent from 34 in 2013.
“The steep rises in sexual and violent offences are a worrying trend that seems likely to continue,” human rights advocate Peter Tatchell was quoted. Tatchell stated a belief that the figures presented may be just the “tip of the iceberg.” Many “closeted gay and bisexual men” are said to be specifically targeted because perpetrators know that this group is less likely to report crimes to the police.
“I would urge those who use online dating apps to be as security conscious as possible and not to share personal data with anyone until they are sure about those they are communicating with,” Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside Police Andy Cooke, who heads the National Police Chiefs’ Council was quoted.
“Similarly, individuals should stop all communication with anyone who attempts to pressurise them into something they are not comfortable with.”
In September 2015, Gary Pearce, a teacher from Sidcup in Kent, was convicted and imprisoned for five years for “grooming a 14-year-old boy” he reportedly met using the Grindr app. In 2014, an Irish man from Garda was arrested in connection with the rape of a woman he was said to have met on Tinder.
“Sextortion-type” crimes are said to be on the rise: in August 2015, two men from Gloucester, Daniel Edwards and Kristofer Wagner, were imprisoned after being convicted of blackmailing a married man whom the pair met on Grindr. Also from Gloucester, in 2014, Adam Webb and Nathanael Foster were convicted of attempting to snare “would-be pedophiles” in order to blackmail them.
London’s Metropolitan Police Service was reported to have the highest number of police reports involving Tinder and Grindr in 2015: with 202 and 91 reports naming each dating app respectively.
“How do we know that person is who they say they are and they have the right intentions?” Andy Phippen, an IT professor with Plymouth University asked. Phippen noted that many adults may have children whom they warn about the danger of meeting strangers online, but then go “merrily” on their own “hooking-up” with people they know nothing about. The professor warns users of the apps to be cautious because it is impossible to know if others have the “right intentions.”
[Image Courtesy Tinder Press Kit]