Spiking offences: women five times more likely to be spiked than men in England and Wales

Lack of care in night time economy has created ‘perfect storm’ for abusers to spike women, charity says

Women are almost five times more likely to be spiked than men in England and Wales, a freedom of information request by NationalWorld has revealed.

Over a five year period from 2016 to 2020, 602 women were cruelly victimised by sexually motivated spiking, the data obtained from the Home Office shows.

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During the same timeframe, 133 men were also attacked.

The data covers ‘administering a substance with intent’ offences recorded by 40 police forces. Greater Manchester, Witshire, Staffordshire and Kent police forces are excluded due to what the Home Office described as data quality issues.

The crime, created in 2003, is intended to cover all instances of drink-spiking as well as any other method of administering a substance with the intention of overpowering someone to sexually assault them.

Police to build spiking ‘problem profiles’

The stark findings come as campaign groups are calling for tighter safety measures after reports of clubbers being spiked by injection.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) exclusively revealed to NationalWorld that 274 reports of spiking offences involving a needle were reported between September and 8 November to police forces – although not all have necessarily been confirmed and officially recorded as crimes.

NPCC lead for drugs, Deputy Chief Constable Jason Harwin, said incidents of spiking should be reported to the police as soon as possible for officers to gather evidence quickly.

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He said: “We are continuing to gather responses from all forces across the UK in relation to incidents involving some form of injection, with a total of 274 reports confirmed from the start of September into November.

“Police forces are investigating incidents and continue to work with pubs and clubs to increase searches and guidance to staff.  We will continue to analyse the reports and work with police forces, plus other law enforcement partners including the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs), as investigations develop to build a problem profile and determine any further action by police or venues.”

Spiking incidents climbed ahead of lockdown

The number of spikings recorded by police forces in England and Wales was gradually climbing in the years to 2020.

Forced venue closures during the pandemic saw a decrease in the number of crimes recorded.

However, the figures are based on the ‘principal offence’ a suspect was charged for.

That means if a suspect was charged with both spiking and a subsequent rape, only the rape, as the more serious crime, will be captured in the data.

The figures have prompted charities to say they are seriously concerned for women’s safety on nights out.

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‘No woman should fear her safety’

Charity Victim Support said the number of spikings recorded by the police are likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

Diana Fawcett, chief executive of Victim Support, said: “We are seriously concerned by increased reports of spiking targeting women.

“These incidents are not only extremely dangerous for victims’ immediate health and safety, but they can put them at serious risk of further harm and lead to long-lasting impacts.

“As with many violence against women and girls offences, it is likely that many of these crimes go unreported and that police figures may not reflect their full scale.

“What is clear however is that no woman should fear for her safety when going out, and we urgently call on the police and nightlife industry to put strong measures in place to address this dangerous offending.”

‘Women treated as a nuisance’

Bryony Beynon, cofounder of the Good Night Out campaign, which helps nightlife spaces and organisations to prevent sexual harassment and assault.

She said in their training sessions, many nightlife staff still blame women who experience sexual assault for ‘getting too drunk’.

She said: “Perpetrators rely heavily on this social attitude to carry out their crimes, as a woman who has been drugged may be indistinguishable from someone who has drunk too much.

“Women who have been spiked have told us about door security ignoring them or treating them as a nuisance for this reason.

“This lack of care creates a perfect storm for perpetrators to remove them from the premises under the guise of ‘looking after them’. We have to break this cycle.”

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said that police are dedicating local and national resources to spiking incidents.

She said: “We remain in close contact with the police on this issue, urge anyone with information on these incidents to contact their local force and the Home Secretary is receiving regular updates.”

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