A drink on a bar.
Credit: Georg Pirrung

Reported by Ben Blackburn

C.W. spiking

The Home Affairs Select Committee has asked people to share their experiences as victims and witnesses of spiking, as part of a public inquiry launched last week.

The Home Affairs Select Committee has called for evidence on spiking, as the first step in a public inquiry. It is hoped that the lived experiences of victims and witnesses will help the inquiry, launched last week, to better understand spiking and how this criminal practice can be prevented. Evidence will be taken until 19th January.

The call for evidence follows a seeming increase in spiking-related incidents, including reports of spiking by injection. The National Police Chief’s Council confirmed in October that 198 incidents of drink spiking and 24 incidents of spiking by injection had been reported in the two months immediately prior. Moreover, the Select Committee notes that 1 in 9 women and 1 in 17 men have been the victim of spiking. Concerns culminated in a “Girls Night In” in late October, a national boycott of clubs and bars that was supported by several student organisations in Oxford.

The inquiry, which is “part of the Committee’s overarching work into violence against women and girls”, hopes to provide a better understanding of “how spiking should be prevented and addressed”. Particular areas of focus, listed in the call for evidence, include the effectiveness of training procedures aimed at preventing spiking and the efficacy and the effectiveness of the partnership between police and other organisations such as  universities. It also hopes to better understand the role of the government in preventing spiking.

The inquiry notes that students are particularly affected by spiking, including those in Oxford. Spiking guidance, circulated by Oxford University, lists the symptoms of spiking as including “loss of consciousness, loss of balance, feeling sleepy, visual problems, lowered inhibitions, confusion, nausea, or vomiting”. It recommends the reporting of spiking to venue staff as soon as it is suspected and calling an ambulance if the victim’s condition deteriorates. (the full guidance can be found here)

The stories of victims and witnesses of spiking will, it is hoped, support these aims by showing the prevalence of the issue. Beyond ascertaining this prevalence, the investigation is also expected to involve investigating the profiles of victims and the motives of perpetrators.

If you have been the victim or a witness of spiking, you can provide evidence for the Select Committee inquiry here. For students affected by the issues raised in this article, resources are available from It Happens Here and the Sexual Harrassment and Violence Support Service.