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Cases of spikes are ‘pretty unreported’, experts tell MPs

Instances of spikes on nights out are ‘quite underreported’, MPs have been told.

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee heard that needle sticks have become more common after the lockdown, but victims and buildings are ‘reluctant’ to report cases, despite the total number of incidents which has risen in recent months.

Commissioners, who launched an investigation into spiking last week, heard that the victims are ‘predominantly’ but ‘not exclusively’ women between the ages of 18 and 25, with mostly male perpetrators.

Paul Fullwood, of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), said there is a lack of data, with a “fraction” of reported nighttime incidents involving spikes and date rape.

He added: ‘Our evidence is that this is quite significantly underreported from what we can see.

Paul Fullwood, of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), said there is a lack of data, with a 'fraction' of reported nighttime incidents of spiking and date rape

Paul Fullwood, of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), said there is a lack of data, with a ‘fraction’ of reported nighttime incidents of spiking and date rape

Juliet McGeough shared a photo of a puncture wound in her back after going to Revolution in Reading, Berkshire

Juliet McGeough shared a photo of a puncture wound in her back after going to Revolution in Reading, Berkshire

Chloe Madico, 20, from Woking said in October she was stabbed by a needle at Guildford Popworld

Chloe Madico, 20, from Woking said in October she was stabbed by a needle at Guildford Popworld

Juliet McGeough shared a photo of a puncture wound to her back (left) after going to Revolution in Reading, Berkshire. Chloe Madico, 20, from Woking said in October she was stabbed by a needle at Guildford Popworld (right)

What do the experts say about reports of injection spiking?

Is this possible?

Yes – and there are credible reports of people waking up to needle marks being pricked.

But the chances of it being a widespread phenomenon are “highly unlikely,” according to a medical adviser.

David Caldicott, an emergency medicine consultant and founder of the drug testing project WEDINOS, told VICE World News: “The technical and medical knowledge required to do this would make this very unlikely.

“It’s very hard to stick a needle in someone without them noticing, especially if you have to hold the needle in long enough, maybe 20 seconds, to inject enough medicine to cause this.”

Can someone not give the injection very quickly?

Yes – but thatThey need a very potent drug to do this discreetly, experts say.

GHB is one of the most well-known ‘date rape’ drugs and is also self-administered recreationally in small doses by humans.

But Guy Jones, senior scientist at drug charity the Loop, told VICE it would be a “poor candidate” for injection because of the large amounts of liquid needed.

‘Therefore (it would be necessary) a thick, painful needle. This means that the substance involved would be something that would be highly detectable in a toxicology screen over several days,” he said.

Adam Winstock, director of the Global Drug Survey, added: ‘There are very few easily accessible drugs/drugs that can be administered intramuscularly in a small enough amount that people don’t notice and it takes time for the effects to kick in.

‘What you see in the movies is not reality. People should keep their drinks close to them, not take them from strangers and watch out for their friends.’

Can drugs be administered to any part of the body?

Yes, but some parts are more effective than others

Mr. Jones told VICE: “Wherever drugs can be injected non-intravenously, there are specific injection sites that don’t work properly.

‘The back is one of those unsuitable places because of the low fat muscle content and the high concentration of pain receptors.’

What about drinking?

While injection spikes are still possible, adding potions is much more common.

The number of drink drinking incidents in the UK increased by 108 percent between 2015 and 2018, with 179 incidents in 2017 alone.

These are only the officially recorded figures – and will likely be much higher as it is common for people not to report this to the police.

Charity Drinkaware advises, “Don’t take a drink from someone you don’t know and if it’s available, use drink stoppers, which you can buy online, for your bottle cap.”

Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most well-known date-rape drugs.

Recreational drugs such as ecstasy, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), ketamine and other “party drugs” are sometimes used to stimulate alcoholic beverages.

“This doesn’t take all the hard work and dedication away from people trying to look for this sort of thing, but it’s underreported.

‘There is a lack of awareness. There is a lack of understanding.’

The committee held an evidence session on nails on Wednesday.

Councilor Jeanie Bell, a board member for the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities, said: “You have almost a two-fold problem where you have people underreporting of people visiting locations and often they will leave the location before they realize they have been enriched.

“But you also have locations that may be reluctant to come forward and say, ‘Look, we think we may have a problem here with nails in our location, we’re not getting any reports, but we think that’s an issue'” ‘because then they worry about whether they will be penalized – whether licenses will be revoked – because the licensing authority does indeed have quite some powers to manage properties effectively.’

Ms Bell, who is also a cabinet minister on St Helen’s Council, told the committee that people should be encouraged to go to the police or Crimestoppers after incidents.

She added: “If we can’t reach the culprits and you can’t tackle the culprits, you won’t stop spiking.”

Michael Kill, president of the Night Time Industries Association, said there is usually a peak in reported cases around the fall when students return to college.

He told MPs there was also an increase as the sites reopened after the lockdown.

Last week’s victims have told MPs about their ‘horror’ experiences of being targeted in bars and nightclubs, as part of the investigation into its prevalence in the UK.

Two women and a man shared their dazzling stories, telling a House of Commons committee how they had been targeted by date-rape drugs.

One of the women, a university student, told MPs how she felt “painful pain” after being stabbed in her leg by an “injection”.

Another woman, a 51-year-old mother of three, said she lost control of her body after her drink was spiked in a ‘quiet bar’ in Cornwall.

And one man revealed how he had been on a trip to Las Vegas when he was struck by an incident where he was taken to the hospital with liver and kidney damage.

The three victims gave their accounts as part of an investigation by the Commons Home Affairs Committee into spikes.

The commission is taking evidence from victims about their experiences in the hope of gaining a better understanding of its prevalence in the UK and the effectiveness of police response to it.

The investigation was launched after a spate of alleged ‘needlestick’ incidents in which both women and men claimed they had been injected with a date-rape drug.

One of the women to testify at the hearing was Hannah Stratton, from Newquay in Cornwall.

She told MPs how her drink had been drugged while having a few glasses of wine with two friends in a quiet bar.

The 51-year-old said she had to put her head on the bar table because she couldn’t keep her torso up and her legs felt like lead.

Her friends helped her in a taxi home, but she said the driver condemned her for being drunk and found the whole experience “humiliating”.

Mrs. Stratton said, ‘You’re just disgusted with yourself – and that might make sense for the other victims here.

“And it sounds really crazy – a number of people have said to me, ‘No, no, no, don’t blame yourself, why do you hate yourself?'” But you do.

1642609651 666 Cases of spikes are pretty unreported experts tell MPs

1642609651 666 Cases of spikes are pretty unreported experts tell MPs

Councilor Jeanie Bell, a board member for the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities, said: “You have almost a two-fold problem where you have people underreporting of people visiting locations and often they will leave the location before they realize they’ve been nicked’

“It takes a long time for you to actually turn that around and realize that I don’t really have any self-blame or shouldn’t blame myself, but that’s why I didn’t report it.”

She said she has struggled with doubts about whether she’d had too much to drink, but added: “I’m 51 years old. I’ve never acted like this in my life, and I’m not going to act like that after a few glasses of wine.”

Ms Stratton said she had educated her three daughters about the risks but thought she was “way too old” to let it happen to her.

She said she made a post online about her experience and was approached by about a hundred people “of all ages and both sexes” who said it had happened to them.

The commission held its first evidence session on nails last week.

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