Spiking update

As we work hard to develop our understanding of spiking in the West Midlands, we’ve been speaking to scientists about the use of syringes in bars and clubs. And their update should be reassuring.

They told us that because of the body’s natural response to the pain that comes from a needle being pressed into the skin, most people react very quickly to being injected and move away from the pain. This reflex response combined with the time needed to press the syringe plunger, means the opportunity to inject the significant amount of drug needed to have an effect is limited, but not impossible.

And that’s why we still investigate every report – because it is possible people are still using needles or sharp items to injure and scare clubbers. And that’s a crime.

Photo of a pill being dropped into a drink

Between 10 and 14 November, we investigated 24 reports of people being spiked with drugs.

Our new rapid multi-drug test kits were used 22 times over this period:

  • Twelve were negative
  • Two people declined the offer to provide a sample
  • One person was unable to provide a sample 
  • One was a hospital test that we still have not had the results for
  • Four tested positive for THC – a chemical found in cannabis and two tested positive for cocaine. Of these six, one said they had not used drugs (cannabis). The other five told us they had. No further action was taken against those people but they were offered the support of drugs charities to help them stop
  • None of the three people who were spiked with a needle tested positive for drugs.
Graphic of spiking cases reported to us between 10 and 14 November
Spiking cases reported to us between 10 and 14 November 2021

Despite working closely with the venues where these cases happened, we’ve found no evidence that would help us progress our investigations. So the sooner we and bar staff hear about cases, the better.

Detective Superintendent Sean Phillips, from our Public Protection Unit, said: “The update from experts is reassuring and mirrors what we’ve seen so far in the West Midlands. People may have received needle injuries, but thankfully so far we’ve no evidence of drugs being found in their system and no evidence that further crimes have been committed against them.

“I want to be clear and leave people in no doubt about our response to spiking reports. Spiking is a serious crime and we investigate every case. I want people to talk to us if they think they’ve been spiked. Our new rapid drug test kits are proving popular with casualties and are giving people the answers they need, fast. But they’re not the only tool we have.

“We want people to feel safe and be safe on a night out. We’re working closely with bars and others to improve safety and people will see that from the extra searches and ID checks that security staff are carrying out.”

The Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil, said: “Sadly we know that spiking goes on, and it is a truly disgusting crime that society needs to stamp out. The thought that you might not be safe in a bar or club is deeply concerning. 

“West Midlands Police officers have worked hard to ensure reports of spiking, including reports of spiking by needle, are thoroughly investigated and I know they’re also forging close links with pubs, clubs and bars to deter and prevent spiking crimes from happening in the first place.”

To report spiking talk to us via Live Chat button on the right of your screen. In an emergency dial 999. 

Remember: 

Spiking is against the law. It’s a serious crime with serious consequences.

People are more aware of spiking than ever before so you’re more likely to be found out.

If you spiked someone to enable sexual activity, you could face 10 years in jail, you may also be placed on the sex offenders register. 

A criminal conviction will change your life. You may lose your job, your home, future careers will be affected when you tell them about your past and you may also face restrictions on travel with countries like the USA not giving visas to people with convictions for serious crimes.

Make the right choices and look out for each other. 

Get further information about drink spiking on our Safer Nights page.

The charity Victim Support are ready to help you if you’ve been spiked in the past and are struggling to cope. Call them 24/7 on 0808 1689.

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