Police Investigate Virtual Sexual Assault on Girl’s Avatar


Police are currently investigating a virtual sexual assault that occurred on a girl’s avatar, according to the chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, Donna Jones. The incident took place in 2023 and triggered a police inquiry. While no physical harm was caused, it resulted in psychological trauma for the victim. Police chiefs are urging platforms to take more responsibility in protecting their users. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has called the metaverse a gateway for predators to commit crimes against children, emphasizing the lifelong emotional and mental impacts of such crimes. The NPCC has also urged tech companies to make their platforms safer. The specific police force conducting the investigation has not been disclosed. The incident occurred within a virtual reality (VR) game, and the immersive nature of the experience heightened the impact on the victim’s avatar. Some argue that legal changes may be needed to effectively prosecute and punish those responsible for sexually motivated attacks on avatars in virtual worlds. Others suggest that existing laws against synthetic child abuse images could be used as the basis for prosecutions in virtual world cases. Ms. Jones has called for collaboration between the police and government, particularly the Ministry of Justice, to identify necessary legislative changes. Concerns about sexually motivated attacks in the metaverse have been previously raised, with researcher Nina Jane Patel sharing her experience of abuse in a virtual world operated by Meta in 2022. The National Crime Agency has warned that police must be prepared to handle virtual sexual assaults in the future. The platform on which the attack on the young girl’s avatar occurred has not been confirmed, but Meta has stated that such behavior has no place on their platform and they have measures in place to protect users.

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