Concern over dating apps after increase in rapes in Scotland

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Online dating appImage source, Thinkstock
Image caption,
Charities say they are seeing more cases of rape where the perpetrator and victim have first made contact online

A charity has raised concerns about online dating after an increase in reports of rape in Scotland.

Police Scotland figures revealed more than 160 people in a year reported being raped on a first or second date.

Most had been talking with the perpetrator on dating apps or social media before they first met.

The figure from 2018-19 equates to almost 11% of all rapes committed by someone other than a partner or ex-partner.

Meanwhile in 2009, 33 people in the whole of the UK reported being raped on a first date with someone they met online.

Police have launched an awareness campaign - #Get Consent - to warn sex without consent is rape.

It is aimed primarily at men aged 18-35, who the force said are the peak age for offending.

Consensual activity

Sandy Brindley, national co-ordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland, said the charity was seeing more people being raped where they have made contact with the perpetrator through online dating.

She said: "Even if there was some consensual activity - drinking or you go out for dinner with somebody - it does not mean that somebody is entitled to sex."

She added: "We do hear of people where they meet somebody on the first date, and it does turn out that the person isn't who they've said they were online and sadly it does end in a rape taking place.

"I think this is just as significant and serious a crime as what has traditionally been seen as a stranger rape - somebody jumping out from behind a bush - because it is very deliberate and calculated targeting."

Image caption,
Police say the core message in the £30,000 campaign is that sex without consent is rape

Police figures for 2018-19 showed there were 2293 rapes recorded in Scotland. The perpetrator was the partner or former partner of the victim in 35% of cases.

Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald said the police campaign was aimed at people in bars and clubs as well as online activity.

"Dating apps and websites have featured amongst the reports.

"So we have identified that following on from initial contact online there has perhaps been a period of messaging and flirting via text messages or direct messages, resulting in a first physical meeting, a first date, and that's when the rape's occurred."

The campaign costing £30,000 will feature posters in phone boxes and club washrooms and will run on social media platforms.

Police said the core message was that sex without consent is rape.

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