Spiking

Home Office written question – answered on 23rd January 2023.

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Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of trends in reported incidents of spiking; and what steps she is taking to ensure that perpetrators are (a) caught, (b) prosecuted and (c) appropriately sentenced.

Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of providing free spiking test kits in nightclubs and bars.

Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of increasing funding for anti-spiking policing where incidences of that offence are high.

Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the prevalence of needle spiking.

Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to help improve training on tackling needle spiking for (a) nightclub and (b) bar staff.

Photo of Peter Gibson Peter Gibson Conservative, Darlington

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to help improve training for police officers on tackling needle spiking.

Photo of Sarah Dines Sarah Dines The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Home Office collect details of spiking incidents when they are recorded through the Home Office Data Hub and this information is provided by most forces in England and Wales.

Using these police recorded crime data the assessment is that during the third quarter of 2021/2022 there was a significant rise in people reporting to police that they suspected they had been the victims of spiking. During the first three quarters in 2022/2023 the levels of recorded crime that fall under the offences which cover spiking across England and Wales have reduced significantly, albeit they are demonstrably higher than they were in the period running up to Q3 2021/22.

I urge anyone who suspects that they have been spiked to contact the police.

The Home Office is leading the cross-government approach to understanding and tackling spiking. In 2021, the then Home Secretary asked the National Police Chief's Council to urgently review and coordinate the national policing response to spiking. Since then:

  • Spiking has been incorporated into the Government's communications campaign to tackle violence against women and girls, known as 'ENOUGH'. This includes providing important information about the crime on the campaign website and signposting victims to support services.
  • We have worked closely with the Festivals and Outdoor Events sector to ensure the safety of the public at summer events, ensuring that sufficient protocols, training, communications, and guidance was in place for event organisers, the police, security personnel and audiences.
  • Government have supported Universities UK to provide guidance to universities on spiking published ahead of the Autumn 2022 term and the ‘freshers’ period. We provided further communications on spiking to local authorities and supported NPCC targeted communications.
  • Police forces across the country increased their focus on spiking with high visibility police patrols across town centres and areas with a high density of pubs, bars and clubs.
  • The Police have produced a forensic strategy and have worked with the forensic provider Eurofins to develop a rapid testing capability. This accredited capability enables the police to send up to 50 samples per week with a project turnaround of 2-3 weeks, with the options for samples to be upgraded to be used as evidence in criminal proceedings. This enables law enforcement to better support victims, and also build our understanding of what drugs are being used and how common or not they are.
  • The Home Secretary will be publishing a report in April on the nature and prevalence of spiking, and action that government has taken, and will take, to tackle it.

In December 2021, the NPCC established a rapid urine testing capability, which to date, remains the only accredited urine testing service which can later be “upgraded” for use in criminal proceedings.

The government position remains clear: off the shelf testing kits should not be used in isolation due to their unknown accuracy and the lack of any standardisation across the industry. If such test kits are used, we still recommend that individuals contact the police to submit a sample for processing through the rapid testing capability as soon as possible in order to receive the most accurate results and to help bring spiking offenders to justice.

Frontline police officers are trained to support victims when they report crime. All police forces receive regular updates from the National Police Chiefs’ Council spiking gold group. This helps to standardise procedures across England and Wales but provides forces with flexibility to adapt training to their local situation.

Through Safety of Women at Night Fund and the current (fourth) round of the Safer Streets Fund we have awarded funding for a range of initiatives to tackle drink spiking, including training for night-time economy staff, CCTV and street lighting and drink protectors.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) has ensured that the training which door supervisors and security guards must undergo in order to obtain an SIA licence includes specific content on preventing violence against women and girls, and it is running campaigns to remind the industry and operatives of their role and responsibility in keeping people safe, with a focus on women’s safety.

The government also welcomes initiatives such as Ask Angela and Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative (LSAVI) and would encourage local areas or venues to consider how they can be used or replicated where necessary.

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