Cases of spiking by injection are difficult to police because of the “subterfuge and modus operandi of the attacker”, a former senior police officer has said.
More thorough door searches at clubs and bars may not be enough to stem the apparent spate of incidents in which young women and men have allegedly been spiked with a sharp object, Tony Blockley, a former senior investigating officer and head of crime at Derbyshire Constabulary, told i.
And the national picture of the reported crimes raises the question of whether information is being spread among the perpetrators.
“It does make you wonder about where the information is being spread, whether it’s on the internet or in chat forums or whatever else it is,” said Mr Blockley, now head of policing at the University of Derby.
“The fact that it’s coincidental across the country does indicate some element of knowledge,” he said, making clear he was not suggesting the attacks are coordinated.
Nottinghamshire Police is investigating 12 separate cases of people being spiked with “something sharp” in less than a month. It plans to deploy more officers into Nottingham city centre, with a police dog operation planned for Saturday night.
On Friday the force said two men were arrested as part of the ongoing investigation into spiking. Meanwhile Lincolnshire Police arrested a man over attempted drink spiking at a nightclub.
Devon and Cornwall Police is also investigating reports of a woman being attacked with a needle, while an MSP is urging police in Scotland for more information on the nation’s recent spiking cases.
Jane Monckton-Smith, a forensic criminologist and professor of public protection at the University of Gloucestershire, said spiking by injection is “a new method of getting the drugs into the women” after awareness of drink spiking has grown.
“People follow trends. Criminal follows trends… You’ve got lots and lots of social media groups that will share information about where to get these things, giving each other tips of how to get the drugs, and it’s just like a massive grapevine and we’ve got no control over it… These people are able to find others who think the same as them. They would never have come across each other some years ago.
“I’m not sure that that kind of spiking will take off as much as drink spiking because you’ve got a syringe on you that’s easy to find if the police start searching… But getting drugs into women, they are going to find ways around it all the time, this is the latest trend method, I think, for doing it.”
Students have organised Girls Night In events across the country to boycott clubs and bars until they feel safe enough to go out again. More than 160,000 people are backing a petition to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to search guests on entry.
But Mr Blockley doubted whether door searches would be enough to stop spiking by injection crimes.
“These things can be hidden about one’s person and unless we are going to adopt an airport security type of search, it’s going to be really hard to prevent this type of equipment coming into any bars and clubs.
“If you consider how easy it is to hold a needle in your hand and then compound that with the darkness and crowded nature of clubs and bars, it shows how difficult it is to see the attack happening and, in the event the victim does feel something, the ease with which the attacker can slip away.”
He said bystanders should report any suspicious behaviour. Another option may be to have venue staff mingling with crowds.
“Sentencing needs to reflect the seriousness of the crime and those responsible should receive appropriate sentences,” he added.Internet Explorer Channel Network