Spiking: New working group set up to tackle ‘heinous’ attacks on students | Politics News


Every university in the UK will be asked to introduce a policy to tackle spiking by the end of the year, it has been announced.

The government has set up a new working group to stamp out the “heinous” issue which has increased in prevalence in the last year.

The group will bring together vice-chancellors, police, campaigners and victims to create plans for practical steps to keep students safe following a spate of attacks.

Last year, universities said that the increasing number of cases of spiking by injection during nights out was “incredibly disturbing”.

Several women, including students, reported fearing they had been targeted by people injecting them with drugs at nightlife venues, with reports in a number of parts of the UK, including Nottingham, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Professor Lisa Roberts, University of Exeter Vice Chancellor, has been appointed to lead the working group and coordinate responses across the university sector.

Higher and further education minister Michelle Donelan said: “I think to tackle this horrendous and heinous problem, we do need to work collaboratively.

“Most of these incidences happen outside of the university or college campuses, but of course they are important anchor institutions in their community – equally, we know that the night-time economy have a role to play here, police have a role to play here.”

She added that the government wanted to “hear from the voices of victims” and praised the “exceptional individuals [who] have the courage to come forward and use their harrowing and awful experience to try and help others”.

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A report by MPs says spiking someone’s drink is a heinous crime and should be made a specific criminal offence

She said her priority was that students felt “safe” so that they could “enjoy that broader student experience that is so important”.

She praised universities such as Nottingham Trent which has been involved in delivering bystander intervention training to staff in night-time city venues, and said that practices like this should be made widespread.

Last month a Home Affairs Select Committee report found the true prevalence of spiking – which can include spiking someone’s drinks, “hazing” rituals and attacks with needles – remains unknown.

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A recent survey by student outlet The Tab suggested 11% of students believe they have had their drink spiked, while research by the Alcohol Education Trust found more than one in 10 young adults had been victims of spiking.

On Tuesday, Ms Donelan and Home Office minister for safeguarding Rachel Maclean met victims, campaigners, senior police officers and university leaders to discuss attacks seen in different regions and explore how more collaboration between universities and the police could give a clearer picture of how prevalent the problem is.

The evidence will be used to inform the government’s report to Parliament on spiking, to be published next spring.


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