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UK government announces anti-spiking measures

The UK Home Office has announced new measures and updated legislation to tackle drink spiking ahead of the festive season.

drink spiking
More than 5,000 people in England reported being spiked in 2022

Home secretary James Cleverly announced the package yesterday (18 December).

The new measures will include changes to legislation, research into self-testing kits, more training for on-trade staff and more education around spiking.

There will also be coordinated police action to crack down on spiking over the next few weeks.

Cleverly said: “Tackling violence against women and girls is a personal priority for me and this government has shown time and again that we will do what is necessary to keep the public safe.

“Spiking is a perverse crime which can have a lasting impact on victims. Our comprehensive new measures are designed to help police and staff in bars, restaurants, pubs and other premises to protect victims and bring more offenders to justice.”

Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 has been updated to clarify the different forms of spiking and to make it easier to prosecute perpetrators.

The new guidance defines spiking as putting either alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal drugs into a person’s drink or injecting them without their knowledge or permission; as well as the same for food, cigarettes and vapes.

Michael Kill, CEO of Night Time Industries Association, said: “The planned statutory guidance under Section 182 of the Licensing Act 2003 and the commitment to providing an unequivocal definition of spiking reflects a comprehensive approach to addressing this pressing issue.”

According to the Alcohol Education Trust, more than 5,000 people in England reported being spiked in 2022, with approximately 10% of under-25s reportedly having been victims of it.

Minister for victims and safeguarding Laura Farris added: “Spiking is an insidious and predatory act which is already illegal under existing laws.

“We are amending legislation to make the offence explicit and capture the modern-day nature of the threat.

“Taken alongside new measures to improve the way the police respond to incidents, and better equipping venue staff to identify, respond and protect their customers, we are sending a clear message that perpetrators of this crime should expect to be caught and face justice.”

Following an increase in spiking incidents in 2021, leading trade bodies teamed up to produce a factsheet of resources for hospitality operators.

UKHospitality’s chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The safety of customers is a top priority for hospitality businesses, so highlighting and informing measures to prevent spiking is important.

“Education and proper training are essential and hospitality businesses continue to work tirelessly to prevent spiking.

“We’re committed to working with sector partners to provide venues with up-to-date advice and guidance on best practice to prevent spiking, as well as with the Home Office on measures like these.”

It is yet to be revealed what training on-trade businesses will need to provide and whether they will receive support to do so.

Last year, UKHospitality urged the government to support the on-trade following a shortage in night-time sector door staff.

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