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Grindr and Tinder are asked to explain to the government how they protect children, after an investigation revealed that minors were at risk of sexual exploitation.

Police have been investigating more than 30 child rape cases since 2015, as victims escaped control of the age of these apps, the Sunday Times reported.

Secretary of Culture Jeremy Wright described the situation as "really shocking".

Grindr and Tinder both stated that they had taken steps to prevent minors from using them.

A Sunday Times access to information request also reported 60 new cases of sexual offenses against children – including grooming, kidnapping and violent assaults – through online dating services. .

The youngest victim was eight, the paper said.

Mr Wright said the survey had brought "even more evidence that online technology companies need to do more to protect children".

He added that he planned to write to Tinder and Grindr asking "what measures have been put in place to protect children, including to check their age".

"If I am not satisfied with their response, I reserve the right to take other measures," he said.

Legislation that came into effect in April, which forces pornographic sites to use age verification technology, could now be extended to dating apps, he said.

Last week, Instagram promised to remove all self-injurious images from the social media platform.

This decision comes after 14-year-old Molly Russell's father, who committed suicide in 2017, said Instagram had "helped kill" his daughter.

Molly's family discovered that she had viewed images of self-injury on the site prior to her death.

"We do not want minors"

A spokesperson for Tinder said the platform used manual and automated tools and "spent millions of dollars a year" to prevent and eliminate underage users and other inappropriate behaviors, and that they "do not want no minors on Tinder ".

In a statement to the Sunday Times, Grindr said: "Any story of sexual abuse or other unlawful behavior troubles us, as well as a clear violation of our terms of use.

"Our team is constantly working to improve our digital and human screening tools to prevent and remove inappropriate use of our application by minors."

Earlier this week, a man was jailed for two and a half years for sexual activity with a 12-year-old girl whom he allegedly was 19 years old.

Carl Hodgson, 28, invited the child, with whom he made contact on a dating app, in his apartment and sent pictures of her down to a friend via WhatsApp.

Manchester Court Court was told that Hodgson had filmed the girl on her phone and also committed a sexual act in front of the girl.