By Teresa Doyle…
Reported cases of drink spiking have been steadily increasing over recent years. Many of you will either have experienced this yourself or know someone that has also been victim to drink spiking, as this is becoming disturbingly common. Not only is the experience of spiking traumatic in itself difficult. Reporting procedures are often laced with outdated victim blaming rhetoric. As many of us unfortunately know, spiking is when an individual puts drugs into another person’s drink without their knowledge or consent. Cases of needle spiking have also been on the rise, with the peak in reported cases often correlating with respective freshers’ weeks across the UK.
Reportedly, some people have been wearing either leather or denim jackets to make it more difficult for someone to needle spike them. In addition to this, some venues have been using covers on their drinks in order to mitigate instances of spiking.
As useful as these initiatives are, this is arguably the wrong way of tackling the issue, as these are simply treating the by-product of the issue rather than stopping people spiking in the first place. In order to make a difference the root cause must be dealt with effectively.
When researching into how to reduce drink spiking, one only finds information on how to try prevent your own drink being spiked as opposed to what is being done to prevent instances of drink spiking in the first place. Although there is no quick-fix solution for this, there are calls to integrate anti-spiking lessons into consent lessons in schools, as well as changing the law around drink spiking in order to increase the possible sentence for perpetrators, but that would mean they would have to get caught in the first place.
Some could argue that this rise in cases is potentially in part due to people becoming more confident in reporting these cases as well as universities setting up reporting mechanisms for these cases. Regardless this is a disturbing trend, prompting various different university programmes, government initiatives as well as boycotts of nightclubs such as ‘girls’ night in.’
This is pertinent to universities and students as, according to police data obtained by the Commons Home Affairs committee, 81% of reported drink-spiking victims are students, with one You Gov poll finding that one in nine women, and one in seventeen men reported being the victim of drink spiking. In keeping with this, the majority of spiking cases are reportedly in nightclubs frequented by university students and within university accommodation.
This feeds into the epidemic of sexual assaults on university campuses in general. In fact, according to research by Revolt sexual assault, on average, 62% of survey respondents have experienced sexual violence while at university, with 26% per cent of male respondents having experienced sexual violence at university, with that number rising to 70% for female respondents.
In conclusion, in order to remedy this epidemic, we need to move towards a preemptive approach which focuses on consent and an understanding of the law around spiking. Perhaps overly idealistic, but rather than testing the drinks, we should get to a point where we don’t feel that to be necessary. The responsibility lies with the perpetrators not the victims.