Only one in 50 spiking offenders have been charged for attacking victims with date rape drugs or other substances, exclusive analysis by NationalWorld has found.
A Freedom of Information request to the Home Office shows police forces in England and Wales recorded 839 outcomes for sexually motivated spiking offences between 2016 and 2021.
The offence is legally known as ‘administering a substance with intent’, which involves giving someone a substance with the intention to stupefy or overpower them for sexual purposes.
Eight police forces made charges in five years
Only 19 of these crimes resulted in a charge - with just eight police forces out of 40 bringing any charges against a perpetrator.
That gives a charge rate of just 2.3%, with 97.7% of offences ending with no suspect charged. Cases not yet closed and assigned an outcome are excluded.
Four police forces are missing from the data due to what the Home Office described as data quality issues.
West Midlands Police brought most charges
West Midlands Police topped the table with the highest charge rate.
Some 22.2% of criminals who had administered a substance with intent were charged – although this was only two offenders out of nine.
The other seven cases might have resulted in a suspect being cautioned, or the case against them dropped, or no suspect was identified.
Somerset and London top for spiking
The most prevalent spot for spiking attacks within the country is Avon and Somerset, with 3.3 offences for every 100,000 residents between 2016 and 2020, compared to an average of 1.5.
That was followed by London with three offences for every 100,000.
A spokeswoman for the Met Police told NationalWorld: “Capturing the correct figures for this crime is complex because there is no current crime classification for drink spiking, it falls under several categories including ‘administering poison to injure’ or ‘administer substance with intent’.
“However, early findings suggest that thankfully, incidences of drink spiking are relatively low, but acknowledged to be increasing.
“It should be noted that these crime classifications are wider than drink or needle spiking so cannot be used in their raw data form as accurately reflecting numbers of spiking incidents.”
Date-rape cases invisable
The crime of ‘administering a substance with intent’ was created by the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, and was intended to cover all uses of ‘date rape drugs’ or spiking of drinks with a sexual motive, according to the legislation.
The crime of ‘administering poison to injure’ referenced by the Met spokesperson is an older crime dating from the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, which does not specify a sexual motive.
The Home Office logs crimes by principal offence - so the true scale of date-rape offences goes unknown in England and Wales.
If a suspect carried out a drink spiking attack and a rape, only the charge for the rape would be recorded in the data, as it takes precedent as the more serious crime.
Spiking victims can ask ‘Angela’
The Met spokeswoman continued: “Officers across the Met work hard all year round to help keep revellers safe in London’s licensed premises.
“Recently, officers have been rolling out the safety initiative ‘Ask for Angela’ at many venues across London. People who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened – including those who think their drink has been spiked - can discreetly seek help by approaching venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela’.”
Venues that support Ask for Angela will also have been given or offered Welfare and Vulnerability Engagement (WAVE) training.
It is delivered by the Met’s licensing officers and Safer Sounds which gives staff the ability to help customers who may be in a situation that makes them vulnerable or unsafe.
She added: “There are certain precautions you can take, including avoiding leaving your drink unattended and looking out for your friends. If you see anything suspicious, report it to bar staff or police.
“We would encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim or witness to spiking, in any form, to contact the police.”
The Home Office said its Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, launched this summer, will help drive long-term change to prevent more spiking offences happening in the first place, bring perpetrators to justice, and ensure victims get support.
A message from the editor:
Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.