REVEALED: 24 South Yorkshire people reportedly subjected to sex attacks after meeting on dating apps

The figures.
The figures.

A total of 24 people have been allegedly subjected to sex attacks in recent years after meeting someone through online dating in South Yorkshire.

Figures revealed there were 19 rapes of females aged 16 or over, four sex assaults on females aged 13 or over and one sex assault on a male aged 13 or over after meeting in the area through internet sites Tinder, Grindr or Plenty of Fish between 2014 and 2017.

Leo Del Pellegrino.

Leo Del Pellegrino.

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One recent high-profile case last year saw Leo Del Pellegrino jailed for 17 years for subjecting a woman he met on a dating app to a five-hour long sex attack in Sheffield.

The data, revealed through a Freedom of Information request, has prompted South Yorkshire Police to urge anyone using dating apps to only meet up with their dates in public places.

Detective Superintendent Melanie Palin said: “In recent years the use of online dating apps has increased in popularity across the country.

“As with any method of meeting someone new I would urge those using these apps to remain vigilant, be careful when sharing personal information and always meet anyone you don’t know in a public place.

“Users of the sites should follow the websites instruction and immediately report any concerns or instances of abuse to the site administrator, as online dating sites will be able to take the appropriate action.”

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Neale Gibson-Abo-Anber, a Walkley councillor and secretary of LGBT Sheffield, echoed the police warning for people to be vigilant.

He said: "I think the police should do even more to tackle all sex crimes, but they need to be reported and many are not.

"I don’t think the dating apps have a responsibility to do more, the users of the apps should always take precautions before meeting people - speak on the phone first, meet in a public place, always let a friend know where you are, arrange for a friend to call you every hour to check your safety."

The warning also comes after the 'Ask for Angela' campaign was launched several months ago.

The scheme aims to clampdown on sexual harassment and encourages people who feel in danger to approach bar staff and 'ask for Angela'.

Staff can then offer support by ringing a taxi, contacting friends of family or asking the person causing distress to leave the venue, or in more extreme cases calling police.

In July 2017 Leo Del Pellegrino was found guilty of 11 sex offences, including nine counts of rape and one count of attempted rape.

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Sheffield Crown Court heard how the 26-year-old IT consultant, of Addlestone, Surrey, had visited the Steel City for a business trip and decided to go on a night out with workmates.

He started looking on dating apps and managed to convince a Chinese national, who was studying in the city, to meet him.

The court heard he intended to carry out one of his 'rape fantasies' and once inside her flat repeatedly attacked her.

Judge Julian Goose QC imposed a lengthy prison term due to the 'serious risk' of harm to the public.

Tinder, Grindr and Plenty of Fish have been contacted for comment and we are awaiting a response.