Not all people who report attacks mention whether an app was involved.
Victims, as well as perpetrators, hide crimes: Only an estimated 17% of all rapes, app-linked or not, are reported to police, the NCA said.
The trouble is that statistics on crimes linked to online dating are sparse.
In 2016, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) released findings on data from police forces around the country. Not all the forces collect data specific to dating apps.
That’s despite dating advice that stresses the importance of meeting new people in public. A 2016 study of 666 students in Hong Kong found that about half used dating apps, and those who did were twice as likely as non-users to suffer “sexual abuse” of some kind (defined on a scale that included, for example, being coerced into unprotected sex, and rape).
The study didn’t prove that apps led to abuse, the authors wrote, but they found the association “alarming.” They hypothesized that app users might expose themselves more to people who are sexually coercive.
But fake profiles abound, sexual predators use the sites, and some common online dating behavior—like meeting alone after scant acquaintance, sharing personal information, and using geolocation—puts users at risk.
In Britain, attacks related to online dating increased almost six-fold over roughly the same period.
In 2011 began screening US members against a database of known sex offenders, after a woman who said she had been raped brought a class-action lawsuit against the site.
In the UK, Match was also implicated in the case of serial rapist Jason Lawrence, who in 2016 was convicted of raping or assaulting seven women he met on the site, after contacting thousands.
All the same, the NCA noted that the incidents had a lot in common.
Most notably, 72% were carried out in the home of either the victim or the perpetrator, and 41% of the dates that led to assaults started at home, rather than moving there after an initial meeting somewhere else.