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Saturday 24 August 2019

'Ban sex offenders from using dating apps', says senator

Fine Gael's Catherine Noone
Fine Gael's Catherine Noone

A Dublin senator has called for sex offenders to be banned from using online dating apps for life.

Convicted rapist Patrick Nevin, who has been jailed for 12 years, carried out a string of sex attacks by using the dating app Tinder.

Fine Gael senator Catherine Noone has now called for sex offenders to be banned from using such apps, describing it as "common sense".

"We need to deal with this issue, given the gravity of these crimes," she said.

"These apps provide direct access for predators, allowing vulnerable people to be abused."

The Dublin politician said legislation should be used to prevent convicted sex offenders from having access to "unsuspecting" members of the public.

"Under the Sex Offenders Act 2001, a judge has the power to prohibit a person who is subject to a sex offender order from doing anything, in order to protect the public from serious harm," she said.

Tinder did not respond for requests to comment.

Cliona Saidlear, executive director of Rape Crisis Network Ireland, said there is an onus on apps to mitigate the risk of predators using dating apps to carry out attacks.

"When we establish something like this, predators look for an opportunity and unfortunately a platform like this offers an opportunity. He was clearly using it in a predatory manner," she said.

"Essentially, if you build something that's a tool for those perpetrators then it is proper that you should do the work to secure it."

Sex crimes have also continued to rise in recent months, with the number reported to gardai increasing by 10pc.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show sexual offences have risen again for the second period in a row.

Grave

In the 12 months to March 2019, a total of 3,231 rapes and sex assaults were reported to gardai, an increase of 10.3pc from the same period in 2018. A similar increase was recorded for the final quarter of last year.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the rise in such crimes "remains a grave concern", but welcomed the fact more victims are coming forward to report such offences.

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