In the wake of the murders of four men by Stephen Polt, who made use of several dating apps, the National Police Chiefs’ Council has said that dating apps “must take more responsibility” for protecting the safety of their users.
Chief Constable Jane Sawyers, police lead for LGBT issues, has said that the apps must provide safety messages.
While Grindr has yet to reply to requests for comment, Tinder did offer assurances on safety saying that they “authenticate each user’s identity using Facebook login. We take our users’ safety very seriously and continuously advise our community of millions of users to be vigilant [and] report any suspicious activity.”
Sawyers said to the BBC that while such apps had helped in “signposting people to the police” but also said that”they could do more to prevent the offences in the first place”. One of the messages that she suggested for display was something like “Get to know the person, not the profile,” which would help raise awareness of the numerous fake profiles that exist.
She did admit however, that there is still a “stigma” over reporting crimes which took place either on or as a result of gay dating apps.
Sawyers said: “There shouldn’t be any concerns about gay people reporting things to police… we’re not there to judge, what we’re interested in is justice for the individual.”
Mel Stray of the LGBT charity Galop, said that they had seen “a dramatic rise in the number of sexual offences reported to us” and also called for “better whistle-blowing facilities for people to report fake profiles, [to ensure] those profiles do get taken down.”
However, she did criticise the lack of convictions made by the police and the justice system in general when such incidents were reported.
Stray said: “Of the over 100 cases we’ve seen in the last few years where clients have come to Galop and reported sexual assault in a chemsex or hook-up context, not one person has been charged or sent to court.”
According to Sawyers, this issue is already in the process of being rectified as police officers are now in training on how to deal with these cases: “These sorts of offences are more prevalent now than your traditional offences.”