Wales’ only female political party leader has spoken out on recent concerns over spiking, calling on legislation to be passed to provide greater protection to those at risk.
The calls come after concern continues to grow over a significant rise in the number of people reporting being spiked, including so-called ‘injection spiking’, where a victim is injected with drugs against their will.
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats - Jane Dodds MS
Several UK police forces are investigating possible cases of injection spiking, and the home secretary has asked for an urgent update on the scale of the problem. Dyfed Powys Police confirmed they are investigating a suspected case of injection spiking in Aberystwyth last week.
Figures obtained by the BBC in 2019 revealed a rise in recorded cases of drink-spiking, with more than 2,600 reported incidents in England and Wales since 2015. 72 per cent of the alleged victims were female.
Campaigners say those stats don't show the full scale of the problem because many people don't report what's happened to the police or visit the doctor quickly enough to do a blood test.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS stated: “Over the last two weeks I have heard from numerous people, especially young women, who are feeling extremely anxious and scared. Some are even resorting to wearing thicker clothes to try and protect against these needle attacks.
“Women should not need to change their behaviour to feel safe why enjoying a night out. Unfortunately, this is not a new issue, rather an issue that has been swept under the rug for far too long and is finally coming to light. Anxieties over spiking join pre-existing concerns for women over sexual violence and harassment.
“We now need legalisation to help tackle this problem urgently. We are proposing three key actions that should be taken as soon as possible.
“The first is test strips for all, we want spiking test strips to be free and widely available at venues, backed by Government funding if necessary. A scheme promoting this has already been successfully launched in Lincolnshire.
“The second is specified training, venue staff and police need to be trained to spot the signs of spiking and how to handle a crisis when it comes about. There are all too many reports of people that are spiked being chucked out of nightclubs and ending up alone and vulnerable.
“Finally, at a Westminster level, we also want to see tougher sentences for those found to be guilty of having spiked people.
“The reports over the last few weeks highlights a deeper problem in our society, the need for more women in policy-making positions. Whether it’s in our parliaments and political parties, the police or local councils. The fact this threat has been left unaddressed for so long is simply evidence of the need for more female voices, particularly young females, at the decision-making table.
Drinkaware has some advice on what to do if you think a friend you're out with has been spiked:
- Stay with them and keep talking to them
- Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates
- Don't let them go home on their own
- Don't let them leave the venue with someone you don't know or trust
- Try to prevent them from drinking more alcohol as this could lead to more serious problems
- Encourage them to get urine and blood tests within 72 hours