Crimes being reported after online dates are rising dramatically, according to figures released by Sky News.
The figures from UK police forces show, over 2000 offenses took place between 2011 and 2016.
In 2011, 140 crimes were recorded and by 2016 that rises to 676. That makes for a huge 382% increase.
In the same period, the number of sexual crimes reported rose from 14 to 106. Furthermore, violent attacks were also up, from 29 to 240.
Speaking to Gay Star News Stephen Morris who works for HM Prison and Probation service says:
‘Chemsex and the associated disinhibited sexual behavior will undoubtedly have contributed to the rise in the stats reported and as we know.’
Morris says because ‘of the mixed messages and unenlightened stance of policing towards victims abused in this context;’ that even these high numbers are likely to be grossly under-reported.
The reason for the underreporting of these kinds of serious sexual assaults, many of which include rape, are complex.
A big deterrent for victims is the worry they may become a criminal for using drugs at the time of the assault.
Since the arrest and conviction of ‘Grindr serial killer’ Stephen Port in 2016, which brought both dating app crimes and chemsex into the limelight; Morris says the Met Police have been ‘incredibly proactive’ in training officers to recognize chemsex situations.
Chemsex related crimes are rising as well
Today’s figures come fresh off the back of Gay Star News revealing that the number of chemsex-linked sexual assaults in London has doubled in three years.
It’s no news that people use dating apps for more than just relationships.
But following our two-week chemsex series, we now know how much they are part of the ‘high and horny’ chemsex scene.
Four in five of a told us, they use apps in the planning of getting high and horny, buying drugs and finding parties.
Our investigation also revealed a new trend of sex offenders deliberately targeting vulnerable gay men at chillouts.
During our Chemsex series, Grindr became a regular dating app cited as used for arranging chemsex parties. At the time they gave us this statement:
‘Grindr is committed to creating a safe environment through a system of digital and human screening tools to help its users connect and thrive.
‘Grindr encourages users to report suspicious and threatening activities. While we are constantly improving upon this process, it is important to remember that Grindr is an open platform. Grindr cooperates with law enforcement on a regular basis and does not condone abusive or violent behavior.’
‘The platforms need to do more’
However, Morris doesn’t recognize Grindr’s statement. He believes the ‘multi-million-pound’ dating company can afford to do more:
‘On-line dating by its very nature provides easy means for those motivated to commit interpersonal crimes; stalking, blackmail, sexual assaults are easy to commit via dating apps.
‘Providers and managers of the platforms have a responsibility to do all in their power to minimise such opportunity. Indeed, they should be pro-active in assisting with investigations after the report of the crime.
‘We need a whole awareness campaign to highlight the issues of consent, what constitutes a sexual crime and the consequences. They are not just for the victim, but for those seeking to offend in this particular way too.’
The NCA’s head of national investigative capabilities, Sean Sutton, gave Sky News this warning:
‘Over 70% of the “stranger rape” cases we see are from people going home with their date or taking their date back to their own accommodation on the first date.’
We have this advice article for anyone who wants to be safer when using dating apps.
Apps are fuelling chemsex and chillouts
Gay Star News’s chemsex series of articles has been examining the relationship LGBTI people have between drugs and sex. We did a global survey to find out about the way people are engaging in chemsex.
The survey shows how integral apps are in connecting gay and bi men to have chemsex.
Notably, four in five (82%) said they use apps in the planning of getting high and horny, buying drugs and finding parties.
Gay Star News and Blued Global Chemsex Survey – Answers to ‘What role do hook-up apps play in facilitating your chemsex life?’
Moreover, the survey also found out the kind of crimes and victims the culture creates.
Equally important, GSN found 1 in 10 reports being a victim of sexual assault in a chemsex environment and perhaps more alarmingly, nearly two-thirds report developing depression from the habit.
On top of this, almost 1 in 4 (23%) who party and play know someone who died after a chillout
Responding to the survey, David Stuart the Chemsex lead at London’s sexual health clinic 56 Dean Street says ‘These results are consistent with the stories I hear from gay communities I visit around the world.’
Looking for support?
If you want more information about rape, sexual assault or any of the issues in this article you may want to try some of these organizations:
- Galop – LGBT anti-violence charity
- Survivors UK
- Survivors Manchester
- Antidote – LGBT health and wellbeing
Globally we have also compiled a list of LGBTI friendly organizations you may wish to seek help from.