Teens as young as 14 are victims of dating app crimes, figures show
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Teenagers as young as 14 have become victims of crimes on dating apps and websites in Norfolk over the last five years.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request to Norfolk Constabulary revealed the number of crimes the force has recorded with mentions of dating apps and websites Tinder, Grindr, match.com and eharmony.
Since 2014, the force has recorded 76 crimes, of which 18 were sexual offences and six included victims who were aged under 18 - below the stated user age for all the sites.
Jay Morris, a community youth worker at the Mancroft Advice Project (MAP), said online safety was an increasing issue for young people but the majority did know how to keep themselves safe.
He said. "Social media a very hard thing to engage people with, it's normalised and it's everywhere.
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"I think it's a small percentage who make themselves vulnerable, I think the majority are quite wise about keeping themselves safe and have got the message about how to do that."
Mr Morris said MAP's advice to young people was to always keep their privacy settings up to date and to be aware the person they are talking to online may not be who they say they are.
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He said: "Adolescence is a risk taking stage so I think that's major concern, that if young people are not experimenting in person they might want to online.
"There's a potential for high risk taking and sadly there are people out there who are looking for vulnerable people but again it's a small percentage but I do think it's a factor and an increasing factor."
Andy Coller, temporary detective superintendent, based in safeguarding and investigations command at Norfolk Constabulary, said the force urged anyone to report offences and to seek support if they are a victim of a crime.
He said: "Dating apps are popular and we would always ask people to be security conscious about sharing personal information online in the same way we would if you meet someone in person that you do not know.
"If you feel uncomfortable or pressurised on a dating app then you should contact the dating app provider and report it to police if you are a victim of any crime, which would be investigated accordingly."