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However, it puts most of that down to increased reporting and better recording by the police.
If you go out to a bar and meet someone that you don’t know, you should be careful.” But those who want to see the industry do more point out that online dating is different from society in one important sense: Users are paying to be there.
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.
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.
Dating companies are being pushed to better protect users, but some seem reluctant to do more— or even to talk about whether there’s a problem.
In the US, overall incidents of sexual violence have fallen by 63% since 1993, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
By contrast, the UK’s Office for National Statistics has recorded an increase in sexual assaults since 2012.
John Leech thinks the situation is new, and dangerous.
A local council member in Manchester, in the north of England, Leech this year launched a campaign to make online dating companies commit to keeping their users safer.
The online environment could also lull users into thinking they know someone, and therefore making themselves vulnerable.