Detective Inspector Mark Hafey, head of the States police Public Protection Unit, warned that sexual abuse suffered by online daters was likely to be a ‘growth area’ for the force. He added he feared that crimes were underreported at present.
Online dating has enjoyed a boom in the past decade. Latest figures show that around one in three UK relationships start on the internet, with around 7 million Britons having some presence on online dating websites. The rise has been mirrored by a ‘significant increase’ in reports of linked sexual abuse, according to the National Crime Agency.
Det Insp Hafey said online dating was as popular in Jersey as anywhere else in Britain yet figures for sexual assaults linked to dating apps and websites remained extremely low in the Island.
The detective, whose unit deals with victims of rape and sexual abuse on a day-to-day basis, said that embarrassment could be one factor why people felt they could not come forward.
‘People think because they may be professionals or in their 40s or older they shouldn’t have got themselves in such a position, but it can happen to anyone – males and females,’ he said.