People are spiking victims on nights out 'just for fun' with no other motive

'The reality is you’re changing that person’s life.'

1/27/2022 11:20:00 PM

Police leaders are urging people not to be a bystander when they see this kind of behaviour and to step-up and say something.

'The reality is you’re changing that person’s life.'

Collecting data on spiking and the motivations behind it can be tricky, as investigators will never know for sure until a perpetrator is caught and convicted.Cases will vary, but Harwin, who is also Deputy Chief Constable for Lincolnshire Police, says drugs like GHB are usually used to commit other offences.

Currently there is no specific crime of spiking under UK law, although a person who drugs someone could be convicted under a handful of offences, with penalties ranging from six months to 10 years.‘It could be four or five different offences. So a specific offence would give you a much clearer picture of what’s happening.’

Read more: Metro »

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Drink-drive crash victim wins £1,700,000 after being accused of faking disabilities ‘If they see people do it they need to challenge it and if they don’t feel safe or confident doing that then they need to challenge somebody else. ‘If they are in a licenced premises they need to have a word with staff or security. If they’re in a circle of friends and they see their friends are doing it they need to challenge that behaviour.’ Collecting data on spiking and the motivations behind it can be tricky, as investigators will never know for sure until a perpetrator is caught and convicted. But based on evidence collected, police suspect cases where someone has been spiked as part of a prank are likely to be targeted by someone they know, and most likely with alcohol. In cases where someone spikes a friend ‘for a laugh’, they’re more likely to slip an extra shot into their drink than some other kind of drug (Picture: Shutterstock) Cases will vary, but Harwin, who is also Deputy Chief Constable for Lincolnshire Police, says drugs like GHB are usually used to commit other offences. Pretty much any drug can be used for spiking, but as reported last year by Metro.co.uk, alcohol is the most commonly used substance for this across the board. Currently there is no specific crime of spiking under UK law, although a person who drugs someone could be convicted under a handful of offences, with penalties ranging from six months to 10 years. But Harwin says making spiking its own offence will help the public understand the seriousness of it and also make it easier to log and keep track of offenders’ behaviour. ‘Sometimes when interrogating the system they’re all slightly different things,’ said Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen, who was also at yesterday’s hearing. ‘It could be four or five different offences. So a specific offence would give you a much clearer picture of what’s happening.’ Why Metro.co.uk is partnering with the Global Drug Survey Collecting data on spiking is always pretty shaky, as victims don’t always feel empowered to come forward and opportunities are often missed to collect crucial evidence. This is one of the reasons why the Global Drug Survey 2022 wants to hear experiences from people who believe they’ve been spiked. Accounts collected can paint a clearer picture of the problem and this evidence can be used by governments and authorities across the world. Since 2011, the GDS has tried to ‘make drug use safer regardless of the legal status’ by gaining a better understanding of how people take them. It aims to promote honest conversations about the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ of drug use – cutting through the various moral panics and political lines on the issue. Figures show that cases of drink spiking in England – rather than with needles – has risen from 716 in 2016 to 1,130 the following year, to 1,699 in 2018 and 1,983 in 2019. It dipped to 1,497 in 2020, but this was at a time of widespread restrictions for pubs and clubs and people being kept at home due to lockdown rules. Figures up to June 21 last year were at 708, but this was before pubs and clubs were fully reopened on July 19 – dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ at the time. The statistics are concerning, but Allen hopes the wave of spiking stories in the media in October might eventually buck the trend thanks to greater awareness among staff, security and punters. She added: ‘It’ll make people think “my career could be in jeopardy if people look at me and see what I have done” – this is an opportunity to see that trend decline.’ When stories of needle spiking hit the headlines, some experts raised doubts over how widespread the phenomenon was due to the logistics of administering a drug in this way without them noticing. NPCC drugs lead Jason Harwin encourages people to step up and say something if they see a pal spiking someone else But Allen disputes this and says police forces are seeing evidence of puncture wounds in victims and medical examinations suggesting a evidence of injections. She said that in her force area of Durham, out of 82 spiking incidents reported to police, 37 were said to be injection related, dropping to 25 after a review from a medical examiner. ‘They have to come forward, I don’t want anyone saying that there’s no evidence that this is happening,’ she added. ‘The police wouldn’t give evidence if there was talk about spiking with needles and there hadn’t been any evidence.’ Harwin added: ‘The individual has got a clear needle mark, we’ve got toxicology results where there is some indication that a substance could have been used through needle spiking and we have witness accounts. ‘We record to investigate – victims come forward, they believe they’ve been spiked. Clearly there’s been no contrary evidence that they haven’t and therefore we’ll investigate it.’ Anyone with information on cases of spiking can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at