A Sharp Rise in Spiking is Causing Growing Fear Amongst Young UK Students

A Sharp Rise in Spiking is Causing Growing Fear Amongst Young UK Students
Photo: The Independent UK, Getty images

Noud Zuidberg

Human Rights Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defense.

Drink spiking is the act of putting drugs in someone’s drink without their permission or knowledge of it. Next to drink spiking, there is also a phenomenon called spiking by injection, by which women unknowingly and unwillingly get injected with a small needle containing drugs. These last years have seen a tremendous rise in reported cases in the United Kingdom, with an increase of 108% between 2015 and 2018. The National Police Chief’s Council says there have been 198 reports of drink spiking and 56 reports of spiking by injection in September and October of 2021 alone. These statistics do not even cover the full problem, as campaigners have noticed that women often do not go to the police at all or visit their GP too late to get a blood test. 

The likelihood of spiking by injection has been contested, as some medics say that it would hardly be possible to inject someone with a needle and a drug substance without them noticing, as it takes a certain level of precision and duration. However, other medics say that it would be possible, as most people in clubs have had a couple drinks and would be less likely to notice the scratch of a needle, giving the spiker enough time to subtly insert it. 

However overall, most spiking is not by injection but with alcohol, ketamine or GBL (a sedative), according to criminologist Prof. Fiona Measham. The reason for the recent rise in spiking cases reported again over the last two months has been attributed to the lifting of lockdown restrictions, allowing perpetrators to commit their crimes on the young people going out again. 

Last week Wednesday, a boycott under the name ‘Girls Night In’ appeared, started by dozens of young women across the UK to raise awareness for the issue and call on clubs and bars to increase the amount of security staff and safety measures. It is not necessarily the spiking itself that is the worst part about this issue, it is mostly the violations and harm following it. When a girl or a girl’s drink has been spiked, they are under severe influence of drugs making them unable to stay alert of their surroundings or take care of themselves. In many of these cases, young women are sexually harassed or raped as they are unable to defend them anymore. Hence, not only is the spiking itself already a violation, the actions that usually follow a case of spiking are certainly a violation of the need for consent of a woman. 

For more information on how to prevent your drink from being spiked and what to do if your drink or that of a friend has been spiked, visit this link

Sources and further reading

Schifano, I. (November 1, 2021). There were 56 reports of spiking by injection across the UK in the last two months. The Tab. https://thetab.com/uk/2021/11/01/there-were-56-reports-of-spiking-by-injection-across-the-uk-in-the-last-two-months-227293. Accessed on November 2, 2021. 

 Ford, L. (October 27, 2021). Young people boycott nightclubs for ‘Girls Night In’ amid sharp rise in spiking. Evening Standard. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/instagram-women-manchester-bristol-bournemouth-b962747.html. Accessed on November 2, 2021.

Petter, O. (October 20, 2021). Drinks spiking: signs to look out for and how to stay safe. The Independent UK. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/uk-nightclub-drink-spike-signs-b1941703.html. Accessed on November 2, 2021. 

Bown, L and Rahman-Jones I. Injection spiking: How likely is it? BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-58994755. Accessed on November 2, 2021.