No intention to create specific anti-spiking strategy, government says

No intention to create specific anti-spiking strategy, government says
Ministers reject Home Affairs committee recommendation on how to combat crime

The government has “no intention” of putting forward a specific national strategy to tackle spiking, it has revealed.

Ministers have turned down the recommendation by MPs who carried out an inquiry into the crime.

The Home Affairs parliamentary committee had urged the government to look at the efficacy of different anti-spiking initiatives and come up with a national strategy that “promotes best practice”.

The government rejected the idea as it published its response into the inquiry on Monday.

It said a report on spiking, including reviews into anti-spiking initiatives and case studies of best practice, is due next spring and will ensure the government is “taking the best possible action” to tackle the crime.

“There is currently no intention to publish a specific spiking strategy,” the government’s response said.

It added: “But it is the government’s intention that the statutory report will highlight this best practice and provide avenues for organisations to communicate and share tips and strategies.”

The Home Affairs committee launched an inquiry into drink and injection spiking last year following a wave of reports involving needles and nightclub boycotts calling for tougher action to stamp out the crime.

It found a “victim-blaming culture” could be leading to missed opportunities to collect vital evidence and offenders were facing “few deterrents”, with low prosecution rates and victims coming across barriers to reporting.

In March The Independent revealed fewer than 2 per cent of cases reported to police resulted in a charge in nearly five years.

The select committee put forward its series of recommendations to help tackle spiking in April, including a national communications campaign setting out punishments and encouraging victims to report cases.

The government’s response said it was already working on this communications campaign and was looking at sharing messages around the start of the university year, when there was a surge in reports of needle spiking in 2021.

It said it was also looking at boosting communications over how suspected spiking victims or those around them should act, which could include outreach across the education and private sector.

But the government rejected a recommendation for the compulsory safeguarding training of festival staff. Instead, it would update guidance to say adequate training should be considered in licensing decisions.

Dawn Dines from campaign group Stamp Out Spiking said: “We are delighted to hear that government are taking training of staff seriously and we are proactively working towards helping licensing authorities get festivals, bars and clubs trained up.”

She also welcomed the government taking action to review reporting data. “More crime reporting data is vital to help identify where these crimes are taking place and who is being targeted,” she said.

The government said it was considering options for research on the motivations of perpetrators, which was a committee recommendation.

“The government agrees with the committee’s assessment that the motivations of spiking offenders remain unclear, particularly around the newly identified incidences of needle spiking, and that the lack of understanding limits our ability to effectively tackle spiking through targeted interventions,” a spokesperson said.

The Home Affairs committee said the government had welcomed most of its recommendations on spiking.