Drink and needle spiking advice to keep students safe during Fresher’s Week
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Hampshire Constabulary recognises that drink and needle spiking is a big concern for students and we’ve been working with universities and licenced premises across Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight in the lead up to Fresher’s Week to increase understanding of spiking and put measures in place to protect victims and identify offenders.
Autumn 2021 saw an increase in drink spiking and needle spiking reports and although reports have decreased throughout the county since then, we know that students returning to university will still be concerned.
We have worked with bars and clubs in cities in Hampshire to ensure that all venues are ‘spike aware’ and that staff are able to care for people who are reporting they have been spiked and urging people to call the police if they believe this crime has happened to them.
In addition to working with universities and licenced premises to increase spiking awareness, in the coming weeks we are increasing our patrols around halls of residences and the bars and clubs in areas popular with students
Violence Against Women and Girls Co-ordinator for Hampshire Constabulary, Detective Inspector Peter Boakes, said: “We recognise that drink spiking is a big concern and we’ve been working tirelessly to further develop our understanding of spiking incidents in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight.
“We are committed to identifying and relentlessly pursuing perpetrators, especially those who target women and girls.
“We take each and every report very seriously and are committed to tackling violence against women and girls perpetrated by men – all whilst protecting those who need our help – including those who have fallen victim to episodes of drink or needle spiking whilst out enjoying the night time economy that Hampshire offers.”
Officers will consider the best investigative lines of enquiry when suspected spiking incidents are reported, including taking a sample for forensic examination.
Whilst the Force has also invested in multi-drug urine test kits which give an immediate reading and help us obtain early evidence – these have been successfully utilised in areas such as Portsmouth, Southampton, Gosport, the New Forest and Test Valley.
However, importantly, the testing kits will only be used to detect drugs used in spiking cases and officers will never use the tests to take action against people who may have taken drugs recreationally.
Detective Inspector Boakes, continued: “We have sought to provide the highest level of specialist training and support to our staff and officers to enable us to deliver the best service to the public and protect them from those responsible for committing such callous offences such as drink and needle spiking.
“We are aware that typically the issue stems from men targeting vulnerable women and girls – especially in locations where there is a prevalent night time economy or student areas – with women more likely to be a victim of violence than men.
“It is not to say that men are not victims in certain instances, far from it, but there is real a need to have more eyes in this space. We are making a plea to any bystanders who witness spiking incidents – whether that be involving a female or male victim – to speak out, encourage wider reporting and offer up any information about those responsible directly to the police.
“We are absolutely clear that we do not tolerate any form of spiking at all. Individuals who are going out intending to behave in this way will be found and will be stopped.”
Common spiking symptoms are confusion, lack of coordination, slurred speech, nausea, hallucinations, vomiting, paranoia and unconsciousness.
If you’re concerned you or a friend have been spiked, call police straight away using 999. Our multidrug testing kits can get the early evidence we need, and can provide valuable reassurance.
Our message to those targeting vulnerable women and girls are:
• More people are aware of spiking than ever before so you’re more likely to be found out.
• If you spiked someone to enable sexual activity, you could face 10 years in jail, you may also be placed on the sex offenders register.
• A criminal conviction will change your life. You may lose your job, your home, future careers will be affected when you tell them about your past and you may also face restrictions on travel with countries like the USA not giving visas to people with convictions for serious crimes.
Remember: spiking is against the law. It is a serious crime with serious consequences.