Children as young as nine have been victims of sexual offences after accessing adult dating apps, according to police documents obtained by Daily Week Tech News.
The documents, released under freedom of information laws, revealed more than 70 young people were victims of crimes including rape, sexual assault and blackmail after managing to circumvent age verification systems on popular dating apps like Grindr and Tinder.
Here is a list of responses from police forces from across England and Wales.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary
Six cases were reported between 2014 and 2018, including grooming, sexual activity with a child under 16 and causing or inciting a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity.
Two cases were reported – one involving a 15-year-old boy and another involving a 16-year-old girl – but there was no further information on the type of crimes committed.
One case was reported in 2016 relating to sexual activity involving a child under 16.
Seven cases were reported in 2018 and 2019, including four incidents of rape of a girl under 13 where the offender was 18 or older following contact on Tinder, as well as incidents of grooming and sexual activity with a child under 16.
Four incidents took place between 2017 and this year, including rape and stalking/harassment.
One case involved a man and his partner who allowed a 16-year-old boy from Grindr into their home. They gave him three bottles of wine, before engaging in oral sex and raping him after he passed out.
Devon and Cornwall Constabulary
Eleven cases were reported between 2014 and 2019, with the youngest victim a nine-year-old boy.
The force did not provide information on the type of incidents.
One case was reported involving the blackmail of a 14-year-old girl.
Five cases were reported since 2015, including two boys aged 15 who were victims of sexual activity by penetration after contact on Grindr.
Three cases were reported, including an 11-year-old girl who sent naked pictures of herself via a dating app and the sexual assault of a girl aged 16 following a meeting arranged on Tinder.
Four cases were reported during 2016 and 2019, including sexual activity by penetration involving a child. In one case, the offender contacted a 15-year-old girl to say he wanted to sleep with her 14-year-old sister.
The force revealed one case this year in which someone purporting to be a 16-year-old befriended a 14-year-old girl on Tinder.
The pair continued contact and the offender sent sexually explicit messages and photos, including a video performing a sex act.
Five cases were reported, including the rape of a 12-year-old girl and an offence of causing/inciting a nine-year-old boy to engage in sexual activity after meeting on Tinder.
The force revealed 12 cases in the last five years in which children as young as 11 were victims of sexual offences after meeting people online.
West Midlands Police
The force revealed four cases including the distribution of an indecent photo of a child, and sexual activity with a child under 16.
West Yorkshire Police
Eight cases were reported between 2014 and 2018, including sexual activity with a 13-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy who was raped after joining Grindr.
In response, Tinder told Daily Week Tech News it takes its duty of care seriously.
A spokesperson for the dating app said: “Tinder is for users 18+, and we use a network of industry-leading moderation tools – and spend millions of dollars annually – to prevent and remove minors from our app.
“We are constantly working to improve our processes to prevent underage access, and always work with law enforcement, where possible, to protect our users as well. We don’t want minors on Tinder. Period.”
Meanwhile, Grindr has previously said: “Any account of sexual abuse or other illegal behaviour is troubling to us as well as a clear violation of our terms of service.
“Our team is constantly working to improve our digital and human screening tools to prevent and remove improper underage use of our app.”