By Esther Lauaki
Sexual Crime Squad detectives are urging anyone with experiences of sexual assault, harassment or other threatening behaviour from people they have connected with on dating apps to report it to police.
Detective Inspector Juliann Goldrick said it was important that the community understands there are no barriers in reporting these matters to police.
“I want to assure the community and victims of sexual assault that Victoria Police is committed to investigating these matters and holding offenders to account.” Detective Inspector Goldrick said.
“We believe that these matters are under reported and that can be for a range of reasons, including fear or embarrassment, and sometimes feeling unsure if an offence has occurred or if they will be believed.
“In terms of dating apps, we might have people who are unsure about making a report because the person has blocked or removed their profile on the app, or maybe a lengthy period of time has passed and victims are worried it has been too long.
“It’s crucial for police that we play a role in clearing up any misconceptions around reporting sexual assault, especially where the victim has connected with the offender via a dating app,” Detective Inspector Goldrick said that while many people choose to initially report the behaviour via functions on the apps, contacting police is the only way to initiate an investigation into potentially criminal behaviour.
This report allows police to take a number of steps – the information can be carefully assessed by specialist detectives to determine if any criminal offending has taken place, a formal police report can be lodged, and police will connect victims with a range of support services.
“I cannot stress enough that it is never the victim’s responsibility to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to investigate a sexual offence or solve a crime,” she said.
“I think it’s crucial that victims understand that reporting to the dating app is not reporting to police, and so we encourage people to speak to us when they have been subject to concerning behaviour.”
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au