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UK Government Set To Tackle The University Spiking Epidemic

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The Department for Education and the Home Office have announced the launch of a new working group dedicated to tackling spiking across university campuses.

A YouGov poll issued in October 2021 found that 11% of women and 6% of men in the UK claim they have been a victim of drink spiking.

Despite the same poll revealing that 41% of women didn’t think the police would take reports of spiking seriously, action has already been taken to reclassify GHB and closely related substances used for spiking from class C to class B. The Government now plan to work with law enforcement and local authorities to take further action against spiking, including consideration of a specific criminal offence.

However, following a roundtable on spiking in March, it has been agreed that a cross-government, multi-agency approach must now be taken. Consequently, the Department for Education and the Home Office have launched a new working group to tackle the spiking epidemic. This working group is part of the wider government mission to end violent and sexual crimes and strengthen victims’ rights.

Today, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan and Home Office Minster for Safeguarding Rachel Maclean met with spiking victims, campaigners, senior police officers and university leaders to talk about the spiking epidemic. They discussed how working closely with universities and the police could give the Government a clearer picture of the current situation.

Donelan commented that: “This is an issue that is very close to my heart, having had someone close to me spiked when I was younger, which had devastating consequences. So I know first-hand what a horrific crime this is, and I am determined to stamp it out.”

What are the objectives?

The working group will:

  • Work with partners to look at the evidence, best practice and incidents across the UK so that practical recommendations to improve the night-time economy for students can be made.
  • Ask every university to introduce a policy on tackling spiking by the end of the year to ensure victims are recognised and supported.
  • Use insights and evidence to inform the Government’s report to Parliament on spiking, which is scheduled to be published next Spring.

Maclean has said that: “We have already reclassified drugs which have been used for drink spiking and provided funding through the Safety of Women at Night and Safer Streets funds to support initiatives which prevent people from becoming victims of spiking” but Maclean also believes that more must be done.

Founder of ‘Stamp out Spiking’, Dawn Dines, also believes that “with a multi-agency approach, we can really get to the heart of the problem” and is “looking forward to being able to share [their] expertise to ensure the safety of students in higher education.”

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