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UK police call for warnings on dating apps

Press Association logoPress Association 24/11/2016

Dating apps can do more to help prevent users from becoming victims of sexual predators from the outset, British police chiefs say.

The urge comes following allegations metropolitan police service, Scotland Yard, missed opportunities to stop serial killer Stephen Port.

The 41-year-old chef drugged and murdered four young men and raped several others he had lured to his London flat after meeting them via web dating services between June 2014 and September 2015.

The metropolitan police, which has come under fierce criticism for its handling of the case, said they were working with charities to raise awareness among users.

The force is also re-examining dozens of unexplained deaths involving the drug GHB in recent years to make sure that foul play has not been missed.

Police lead for LGBT issues at the National Police Chiefs' Council Jane Sawyers, said apps could do more to prevent the offences by carrying warnings of the many fake accounts.

She admitted there was still a stigma surrounding the reporting of crimes stemming from gay dating apps, the BBC said.

Port met his victims online and invited them to his flat in Dagenham, East London, where he poisoned them with the party drug GHB, raped them and dumped their bodies within 400m of his flat.

His first victim, Anthony Walgate, 23, was found dead in Port's apartment block early on June 19, 2014.

When police tracked him down, Port lied to officers to distance himself from the fashion student.

His next victim, Slovakian 22-year-old Gabriel Kovari, was staying on Port's sofa as a temporary flatmate.

Three weeks after Mr Kovari was found dead, the same dog walker stumbled across the body of Daniel Whitworth, 21, in September 2014.

He had a suicide note taking the blame for Mr Kovari's death, saying he gave him too much GHB at a party.

Police treated Mr Whitworth's death "at face value" and no efforts were made to verify the sham note, which turned out to be in Port's handwriting.

Port's final victim, Jack Taylor, 25, died within hours of hooking up with him through a dating app in September 2015.

Mr Taylor's mother, Donna Taylor, said police should be held accountable for Jack's death and planned to sue after Port was convicted at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

Port will be sentenced on Friday.

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