Stamp Out Spiking and StopTopps took a massive step forwards yesterday (Jan.12. 22) in our fight against drink spiking when founder and CEO of Stamp Out Spiking, Dawn Dines was invited to give evidence to a new parliamentary inquiry into the increasing problem of drink spiking.
Home Affairs Select Committee
The Home Affairs Select Committee was told that drink spiking has reached “epidemic” levels in the UK and Dawn was asked to speak to the committee along with other witnesses - Helena Conibear, Chief Executive, The Alcohol Education Trust and Julie Spencer, Head of Student Wellbeing, The University of Lincoln, Zara Owen, Alexi Skitinis and Hannah Stratton.
This was a wonderful opportunity to get our point across to the people who really can do something about it, and Dawn certainly seized the moment making some hugely important points to the MPs.
Drawing on her 17 years of experience, campaigning and raising awareness about drink spiking, she helped throw light on some of the more difficult aspects of this very complicated crime.
Stamp Out Spiking have submitted Freedom of Information requests to every police force in England and Wales for data on drink spiking and had an astonishing diversity of answers. The main reason for this, as was explained by several helpful police authorities, ‘Drink spiking does not have a specific offence code’ - this means that if someone reports that they have had their drink spiked it will not be recorded as such. At best it might be reported under Section 24: ‘Unlawfully and maliciously administering or causing to be administered to or taken any poison or other destructive or noxious thing with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy the person taking the substance’.
Furthermore, a crime is always recorded under the most serious offence, therefore, If a criminal spiked someone's drink that rendered them helpless and then raped them, there would not be a record of a drink spiking incident, because the more serious offence of rape had occurred.
Stamp Out Spiking have concluded that until there is a specific offence of drink spiking it will be impossible to obtain accurate figures on the real number of reported incidents of spiking, and it will remain a hugely underreported crime. Dawn later told the committee that she had asked 20 men that she knew to have been spiked to attend this inquiry but not one of them wanted to - they were humiliated, embarrassed and concerned about the lack of evidence.
Dawn went on to point out some of the many grey areas surrounding drink spiking with alcohol. For example, buying someone you care about a double instead of a single, not realising they may have to work or drive later.
Dawn also pointed out the huge differences between spiking with alcohol and spiking with date rape drugs.
When responding to Stuart McDonald SNP MP, Dawn told the committee that we need to educate all workers in the nighttime economy by having clear policies and procedures in place on how to deal effectively with drink spiking incidents.
‘We need to give the police a chance to do their job’.
Thank you very much to the committee of MPs who took a real interest in the matter and who seemed really keen to tackle the issue of drink spiking. Thank you also to all the witnesses who presented today, especially those who bravely told their own personal accounts of their experience of having their drink spiked.
SOSUK Ambassador Programme
Since attending this committee, Dawn and Zara have chatted and exchanged emails, and Zara has agreed to become Stamp Out Spiking’s Ambassador for Nottingham University.
This will involve things like;
Liking and sharing our posts on social media
Getting our Stamp Out Spiking information into local venues
Making friends and family aware of the dangers of drink spiking
Find out where in your local area drink spiking is at its worst
Start a Crowdfunder to raise money to put StopTopps and other drinks protectors into the hands of vulnerable drinkers
We need the support of local communities if we are to effectively combat drink spiking. We need to work together to keep each other safe, and becoming an ambassador is a great first step to protecting those you love and care for in your own community.
To find out more about our Ambassador Programme please click on the link below