County Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen has expressed her disappointment that the Government has overlooked calls to create a new offence of spiking.
The Commissioner, who is Joint Lead on Alcohol and Substance Misuse on behalf of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), has argued strongly that a specific offence of spiking – when someone puts drugs or alcohol into another’s person’s drink or body without their consent or knowledge - would encourage mo're victims to come forward and improve police data collection.
MPs debated the issue in Westminster last week as new data from the National Police Chiefs’ Council suggested there were around 5,000 reports of drink and needle spiking in the 12 months to September 2022.
Reiterating that the Government took spiking seriously, Home Office Security Minister Tom Tugendhat MP said it supported an approach that would see amendments to existing legislation rather than a new offence. However, he did give some hope to campaigners that the Government would remain open to further examination of the need for a further offence of spiking in the future.
Commenting on the debate, Commissioner Allen said: “Clearly, I am disappointed with the Government’s approach and the failure to treat spiking more severely.
“As the NPCC’s own figures show, spiking is already a problem in our towns and cities and is almost certainly much worse than data suggests with many victims choosing to remain silent.
“Existing legislation has had little or no impact on preventing these offences in the past and prosecutions are rare. We owe it to all victims of spiking to treat every incident with the gravity it deserves and ensure offenders know exactly what is at stake if they are caught committing this abhorrent crime – whatever their motive. This can only reasonably be achieved by making spiking a specific offence.”
The debate was led by Gloucestershire MP Richard Graham who has previously called for a separate offence for spiking but is also supportive of amending existing legislation.
He discussed the work of Commissioner Allen last year as part of her APCC portfolio responsibilities in which she advocated a standalone offence for spiking to address the barriers confronting victims in coming forward to report the crime.
Cross-party MPs were supportive of further action on the issue with Witham MP Priti Patel telling the debate that the evidence base on the needle spiking trend that emerged in 2021 was undeveloped and a lot more work was required.
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