UK Police Investigate First Case Of Virtual Rape In The Metaverse 

Detectives are investigating the first case of alleged rape in the metaverse after a child was “attacked” playing a virtual reality video game.

The girl, aged under 16, wasn’t physically injured as there was no physical assault. But she is said to have been left distraught after her avatar – or digital character – was attacked online by several adult men in a virtual “room”.

She had been wearing an immersive headset during the “attack”, according to a Daily Mail report.

Police leaders are concerned she suffered the same psychological and emotional trauma as someone raped in the real world as the ‘VR’ experience is designed to be completely immersive.

Ian Critchley, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for child protection and abuse investigation, said: “We know offenders’ tactics to groom and commit offences are constantly evolving. This is why our collective fight against predators, like in this case, is essential to ensuring young people are protected online and can use technology safely without threat or fear.

The metaverse creates a gateway for predators to commit horrific crimes against children, crimes we know have lifelong impacts both emotionally and mentally. As such, our policing approach must continually evolve to enable us to relentlessly pursue predators and safeguard victims across all online spaces.

“The passing of the Online Safety Act is instrumental to this, and we must see much more action from tech companies to do more to make their platforms safe places. The current situation is unacceptable and is leading to widespread grooming and exploitation of children. This must change.
“There also must be more awareness raising and education that abuse can happen online, in any home, at any time. I urge parents and carers to have what can be difficult but crucial conversations with young people to ensure they are safe and to be able to disclose any harmful behaviour in a trusted way.”

Details of the virtual reality case are said to have been kept secret to protect the child involved, amid fears a prosecution may never be possible.

One senior officer familiar with the case told the Mail: “This child experienced psychological trauma similar to that of someone who has been physically raped.