The UK government has ruled out creating a new law around different forms of spiking.
Despite the government looking into the possibility of new legislation last year, the BBC has reported that they have deemed creating new legislation to be “unnecessary”. Home Office Minister Sarah Dines said that there are already several offences which cover spiking incidents and the government had not found “any gaps in the law”.
The government’s position was confirmed in a letter published on Wednesday to Labour MP Diana Johnson, chair of the Home Affairs Committee. “The existing offences cover all methods of spiking, including by drink, needle, vape, cigarette, food or any other known form,” Dines said. “Police are yet to encounter a case where they could not apply an existing offence.”
She added that a specific spiking offence would not increase the powers available to judges in such cases or the likelihood of charging or prosecuting an offender.
However, those in favour of increasing anti-spiking legislation have argued that it could help increase the number of victims who report incidents to the police and facilitate police work by increasing data available on spiking cases.
Several MPs have expressed their disappointment on the decision. Diana Johnson argued that existing legislation was “clearly not working” and not being used. “Reporting is low, and prosecution rates are very rare indeed,” she added.
Meanwhile, Labour’s shadow Home Office minister Sarah Jones called on the government to “call a spade a spade” and introduce more specific legislation, while Conservative MP Richard Graham accused the government of “various straw man arguments”, saying he hadn’t “read such an extraordinary letter” in his 13 years in the Commons.
The Night Time Industries Association‘s Michael Kill said the organisation was “extremely disappointed” at the outcome of the inquiry. “While the suggestion is that the police and legislation are equipped to deal with these heinous crimes, the evidence and data gathering preceding October 2021 proved extremely hard to track and assess, with many of these crimes hidden against the crimes of sexual assault or robbery, particularly as the window of evidence gathering and reporting is so short,” he said.
According to the National Police Chiefs Council, almost 5,000 cases of needle and drink spiking incidents were reported to police in England and Wales in the 12 months to September 2022. A report published in April 2022 by the Home Affairs Committee concluded that spiking would remain an “invisible crime” without help from police, with 90 per cent of victims not being offered any support after reporting a spiking case.
The issue of drink spiking became a much discussed topic in late 2021 after a reported increase in spiking cases, particularly with the use of needles.