In 1989, while I was traveling in Australia, someone put a pill in my drink and I was caught in the act. It left me with so many trust issues and robbed me of the simple joy of enjoying a drink with friends.
But it also triggered something in me – I wanted to keep others safe – so I started a campaign to eradicate Spike. We created a version (protective drink cover) and focused on giving other victims a voice and educating others about this vile crime.
Since hearing the stories of hundreds of victims, men and women, their ability to withstand the effects and aftermath of the spike, and to maintain their consent and safety, has been torn from them. Due to the need, it is very disappointing that the Home Office has withdrawn its promise to protect and properly prosecute victims of spiking.
Spiking is when someone puts alcohol or drugs into another person’s drink or body without their consent or knowledge. This is not a new crime, but media coverage and scrutiny has increased rapidly in the last year.
The effects of such an experience will last a lifetime. Victims report the fear and embarrassment they have, but are often unaware of what has happened to them. Most Spike victims suffer from amnesia and complete disorientation, and may take time to try to piece together what happened.
A major focus of my campaign is ensuring spike occurrences are accurately reported. Stamp Out Spiking conducted the investigation through a Freedom of Information Request to the police. Accurate numbers cannot be obtained for spikes, as police records vary. And when another serious crime is involved, such as robbery, sexual assault, or rape, the fact that the victim was drugged against his will supersedes other charges.
Both the Home Affairs Commission and the NPCC Violence Against Women and Girls Task Force will release their findings in 2022, showing that there is no clear way to capture the incidence of spikes. As such, governments must take the lead in creating legislation or updating existing legislation to make it fit for purpose.
The Home Office said it would do so in January 2022, but decided by December 2022 that it would not be necessary and through “targeted consultations on amendments to the statutory guidance”, responsibility would be transferred to local governments. and pushed back to the license holder/venue. Issued under section 182 of the License Act 2003.”
The decision allows the Home Office to take a step back and not be held accountable for “working with police, local authorities and the night industry to create a ‘victim-first’ approach to fighting spiking.”
This decision does not affect how crimes are reported or prosecuted. Our inability to deploy training and resources for police, emergency services, and night economic workers on how to help victims of this vile crime and prevent a spike.
This also means victims are not promptly tested for spike material. Most of the substances used in the spike are cleared from the body within 6-12 hours. To collect evidence, a urine or blood sample must be taken within that time frame or sooner to support prosecution. We have also heard numerous testimonies from victims saying they were denied tests or waited so long that the results were useless.
Promoting the use of unfit beverage test kits creates a false sense of security and puts the public at greater risk, as only a few substances used as spike agents can be tested. We are aware that test kits have been developed to test for substances, but they are designed for use by medical personnel and first responders. I am amazed at commercial companies trying to take advantage of inadequate test kits.
This problem continues. The consequences are horrific and can be fatal for the victim.
We want clear national guidance for police and emergency services to ensure prompt testing with blood or urine samples. There needs to be training of police, emergency services, venues and security guards on what spikes are and how to protect victims and their staff.
Arranged by Richard Graham (Member of Parliament for Gloucester) at the Westminster Hall debate last week.
I will continue to campaign until Spike is clearly defined, reported and prosecutable by the laws of this country and the Home Office upholds its promise. not, but to protect future victims.
Dawn Dines is CEO of Stamp Out Spiking.