Warning Of Dating App Dangers As Crimes Increase

Ben was speaking to a man on Grindr, a popular dating app for gay men.

He arranged to meet his date at his house, but it didn't go as expected.

He arrived to find a group of the man's friends were also there. After a cigarette and some socialising, Ben had a glass of wine. But he doesn't remember anything after that.

Several hours later he woke up in an unfamiliar room, alone. He believes his drink was spiked, and told me he doesn't know what happened to him whilst he was unconscious - and doesn't want to think about it.

Ben didn't report his experience to the police, but others have done - and in increasing numbers.

Alleged crimes linked to two of the biggest dating apps in England and Wales are up by 560% in two years.

Last year, there were 412 crimes linked to Tinder and Grindr.

The applications may not have been used directly in the crime they're linked to, but they have been mentioned in police reports.

Reported allegations include rape, child grooming, and attempted murder.

The numbers might be relatively small - Tinder says it's had more than 10bn matches on its app. But campaigners say they are cause for concern and are likely just a fraction of the true figure. There are calls for greater awareness of the dangers of dating apps.

Tech companies are keen to stress that threats are present in real life as much as online.

In a statement Tinder said: "People with bad intentions exist in coffee shops, bookstores, on social media and social apps", that these examples represent a "miniscule percentage" of experiences, and that they take users' safety seriously.

The problem is that, beyond a handful of pictures and a couple of lines of text, you have little knowledge of a person's true intentions.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell says a public education campaign is needed, warning that the isolated, vulnerable and those desperate to meet a partner are being preyed upon both sexually and financially.

Despite his experiences, Ben is still using Grindr, but it has made him more cautious.

"No more going to someone's house thinking it's innocent, because I guess that's not what guys are like these days."