Night time industry calls for Home Office inquiry into drink spiking

"The Home Office should work with the industry as part of this inquiry, and also speak to campaign groups and listen to their concerns"

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) have urged the Home Office to launch an inquiry into recent reports of an increase of drink spiking at pubs and clubs.

The NTIA, the trade body representing businesses in the UK’s Night Time Economy, have confirmed that there has been a rise in cases around the UK in recent weeks. There have also been reports of needle attacks in nightclubs in Nottingham, as well other cities including Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow.

“The NTIA are very concerned to learn about the reported increase in the number of spiking incidents taking place across the country,” Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA said. “We support all those coming forward to speak about their experiences. It goes without saying that everyone should be able to enjoy a night out without fearing for their own safety, and we are saddened to hear that some don’t feel this way.”

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He continued: “There is a lot that we as a sector are already doing to try to tackle drink spiking. In response to recent reports, operators across the country have been working with the police, local authorities and key stakeholders, focusing on safeguarding customers, particularly women, at night.

“It varies by region, but many cities already have well-established networks amongst operators and community support representatives, and work very closely with authorities, communicating on a regular basis to highlight increases in crime or disorder.”

Pryzm nightclub in Nottingham, 2019
Pryzm nightclub in Nottingham, 2019. CREDIT: Alamy

Discussing the issues around the criminalisation of drink spiking, Kill said that “very real challenges still exist”.

“We know this a societal problem, but it is very difficult to say with any real certainty what the scale of this problem is, because drink spiking is currently criminalised under an offence which encompasses many other types of incident, and it is also not possible to ascertain whether incident occurred within a licensed venue or some other setting,” he went on. “The result is that police data revealed through FOI requests does not give an accurate picture of what’s happening, or lend itself to specifically categorising this particular crime.”

He added that The Home Office should launch a formal inquiry to examine the results of that pilot, and the lessons that can be applied to the industry and policing nationally.

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“The scheme found that through having on-site testing available in the night time economy, data could be collected that would provide a more accurate picture,” said Kill. “The Home Office should work with the industry as part of this inquiry, and also speak to campaign groups and listen to their concerns.”

Drink spiking
Drink spiking is on the increase – Credit: Alamy

The calls for this inquiry arrive on the back of news of a petition being launched to review the UK’s drink spiking laws after the recent rise in attacks. The petition has been created by Mair Howells of the I’ve Been Spiked Instagram account, and is available to sign on Change.org.

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