Tinder to introduce background checks – Grace Millane cop says it could have raised ‘red flags’

Online dating app Tinder is turning the heat on its users – introducing a new safety measure that will allow people to carry out background checks on potential love interests.

The popular app, used by people around the world, is set to initially bring in the measure for those in the US.

Authorities here say they would support the move being included for Tinder users in New Zealand too – including a top cop who investigated one of the most famous murder investigations connected to the dating site in recent times.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who led the investigation into the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane, praised the dating app company for taking responsibility to look after and protect their users.

“I think it goes a long way because not only can the users feel safer – because they can do checks – but also those potential offenders out there who are using the dating apps will also know or they might know a little bit more about that.

Millane, 21, was killed in an Auckland hotel room after going on a Tinder date in 2018. Jesse Shane Kempson would later be charged for her murder.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Kate Hawkesby, Beard acknowledged some “red flags” may have been picked up had the Tinder app had the background check feature at the time.

'There might've been some red flags'

“In Grace’s particular case, I’m not sure that it would’ve [prevented the outcome].

“There might’ve been some flags raised if that safety app was part of it,” he said.

“There’s still the prevention message out there [for] people using the dating apps – it’s that stranger-danger, keeping yourself safe philosophy. Still need to take care.”

Beard said police had seen an increase in reports of sexual violence connected to dating apps – including drug rapes.

“So there’s two-fold there. There’s not only going to meet someone for the first time – a stranger.

“But it’s also making sure you’re aware of what you’re drinking and you’ve seen your drink being poured in the bar.”

Women’s Refuge chief executive Dr Ang Jury said apps can tick off legal boxes – but relationship will not always be so black and white.

Consent is a “moving thing”, she said, and people can withdraw it after they have given it.

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