5 Live Investigates has seen figures which show a big rise in the number of rapes, sexual assaults and stalking cases involving victims who were targeted on online dating platforms and mobile apps. The programme has received figures from more than half of the police forces in England and Wales which show the number of crimes has more than doubled between 2015 and 2018.
The programme hears from the mother of a woman who was murdered after meeting a man on a website called Plenty of Fish and a man who had his drinks spiked by a convicted sex offender he met on an app called Grindr. Forensic psychologist Dr Ruth Tully works with offenders who have targeted people via dating apps. She tells 5 Live Investigates the platforms provide ‘opportunity’ and if they didn’t exist, the crimes would never have happened.
The Online Dating Association which represents some online dating sites and mobile apps says its members do all they can to protect people from harm.
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Restraint of Special Needs Children
5 Live Investigates has seen new evidence that hundreds of vulnerable children with Special Educational Needs are being injured whilst being restrained by teachers and classroom assistants. Physical and mechanical restraint techniques can be used against children as young as four without schools having to report it to anyone - even parents. But after 5 Live Investigates reported on this in 2017, the Government promised to introduce strict new guidelines detailing how restraint techniques should be used safely. Two years on and nothing has happened. Today the Children's Commissioners of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have asked the United Nations to investigate the use of restraint.
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The Adult Children of Alcoholics
‘I try not to call him. I’ll wait for him to call because he tends not to call me when he’s drunk. He drinks most of the time - a bottle of vodka a day.’ Maria is 25, the daughter of an alcoholic and one of a growing number of young adults who has a parent who’s a problem drinker. The National Association for the Children of Alcoholics has told 5 Live Investigates that the number of grown-up children contacting them for help about a parent’s excessive drinking now makes up 80 per cent of their work - compared to half that five years ago. The charity says more and more parents are becoming problem drinkers in later life. But Liam Byrne MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children of Alcoholics, tells the programme that alcohol and drug treatment services have been cut all over the country.
The organ transplant service is at ‘breaking point’ according to one of the UK’s top consultant transplant surgeons. Professor Nizam Mamode who is president of the Chapter of Surgeons at the British Transplantation Society, has told 5 Live Investigates that overworked staff, a shortage of operating theatres and difficulties in recruiting are problems that need to be urgently addressed. His warning follows the announcement earlier this month that opt-out organ donation will become law from 2020. ‘Max and Keira’s Law’ – named after the donated heart of Keira Bell, nine, saved the life of Max Johnson, 10, in 2017 – will mean all adults’ organs can be taken after they die unless they specifically tell the NHS otherwise. The government says it could save as many as 700 lives a year
Police Response Times
The victims of the most serious crimes who are having to wait longer than ever for the police to turn up. Figures obtained by 5 Live Investigates reveal some of the biggest police forces in the UK are taking almost twice as long to respond to so called ‘grade one’ emergencies as they were five years ago. The programme hears from the parents of a schizophrenic who made an emergency call to the police saying they feared for his girlfriend’s safety because he was attacking her. When police arrived three hours later Suzanne Brown was found dead from multiple stab wounds. 5 Live’s findings follow a spate of fatal knife attacks this year which have prompted Britain’s most senior police officer Cressida Dick to warn cuts in police numbers are contributing to a rise in violent crime. The Home Office says it ensures police have the resources they need to carry out their vital work.