National Crime Agency issues sex app warning

Police warn users of ‘hook-up’ apps like Grindr or Blendr to check partners are of the age of consent

The National Crime Agency said it was the responsibility of 'hook-up' app users to check that anyone they meet is above the age of consent
The National Crime Agency said it was the responsibility of 'hook-up' app users to check that anyone they meet is above the age of consent

The National Crime Agency has issued a warning to users of “hook-up” apps like Grindr that they must take responsibility for checking the people they meet are above the age of consent.

In a message that comes on Safer Internet Day, police said a child “should never be blamed” in a case of apparent grooming, regardless of the means by which the two people meet.

“Hook-up” apps have become popular among people looking for casual sex online because they give the specific location of each user, rather than many established dating websites that list a general area.

The maker of two of the most popular services, Grindr and Blendr – which are marketed for gay and straight people respectively – claims that they are used by around 250 million adults worldwide.

But while the NSPCC said that it did not collect specific figures relating to such apps, it has seen a noticeable rise in calls referring to them.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newsbeat programme, NCA head of education Jonathan Baggaley said: “Just because we've not received huge reports doesn't mean this isn't a major issue. Clearly the very dynamic of this kind of relationship means young people won't report it.”

He added: “The law is very clear: regardless of how the conversation is started, regardless of who thinks they're in the driving seat the adult is always the one who has the responsibility. A child should never be blamed.”

The NSPCC’s Claire Lilley told the broadcaster the apps’ age-restricting terms and conditions were not being enforced, “and as a result children are being put at risk of serious harm”.

The company behind Blendr and Grindr issued a statement saying: “We do our best to ensure all users follow our strict terms-of-service policy that require users to be at a minimum age of 18.

“We have a diligent team of moderators focused on monitoring and ensuring users adhere to our terms-of-service guidelines.”

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