Spiking in Bedford: Research launched to understand impact of spiking across Borough

Drink Spiking image Adobe Stock Monkey Business
Image: Adobe Stock/Monkey Business

The Bedford Independent is launching research into drink spiking today to see how big of a problem it might be in Bedford and to better understand the impact the crime is having across Borough.

Spiking involves adding a substance, usually a sedative, to someone’s drink or injecting someone with an unidentified drug, also usually a sedative, without their consent and without them realising what has happened.

People who carry out spiking have reportedly done so for ‘fun’, but also sometimes to target vulnerable people so they can then sexually assault them or even rape them.

Even if someone is not assaulted or raped, spiking is still illegal but the way it was reported as a crime in the past was heavily criticised, with many saying it made spiking an ‘invisible crime’.

However, in December last year, The Home Office said it would amend the Criminal Justice Bill and update the Offences Against The Person Act 1861 to make clear that spiking is illegal.

Research by the National Police Chiefs’ Council found that nationally, in the summer of 2022 (1 May to 1 September) there were 2,131 cases of drink spiking. They also found that there were 2,581 cases of needle spiking from 1 September 2021 to 31 August 2022.

Yet, further research by Stamp Out Spiking suggests 97% of spiking cases go unreported.

Is it a problem in Bedford?

The Bedford Independent has increasingly heard anecdotal reports of both drink and needle spiking happening in venues in Bedford, but we need your help to create a better understanding of the issue.

Through our Spiking in Bedford survey, we’d like to hear the views, experiences and fears of people of all ages over the age of 16.

All answers will be confidential and once we have enough respondents, we’ll collate these findings to see not only how much of a problem spiking may be but also the impact it is having on the Borough.

We want to hear from people who think they or their friends have been spiked and even those who think they know someone who has carried out spiking.

Remember, all answers are confidential and you will not need to give personal details.

Please pass on the survey, which can also be shared as a link, here, to anyone you know who you think would like to take part. The more people we have responding the stronger the research will be.

Bedfordshire Police

Meanwhile, Bedfordshire Police are taking part in ‘National Spiking Intensification Week’ which started on Monday (25 March).

The week aims to raise awareness of the issues of spiking, and to highlight the support available and continuing Project Firefly, which is the force’s response to making sure people are safe in spaces like pubs and clubs.

This includes giving venue staff training on keeping revellers safe and the signs to spot if a person has been spiked, as well as providing support on how to help those in need.

There will also be an increased police presence, both plain clothes and hi-visibility, with officers trained in behavioural detection techniques which will seek to disrupt individuals intent on committing offences.

Spiking test kits and prevention kits including reusable bottle tops and glass sticks, will also be passed onto people enjoying Bedford’s nightlife.

“Our plans for this week will follow on the ongoing work we do to help keep people safe, and we remain committed to ensuring we take positive action against those responsible,” said Detective Inspector, Vicky Willett

“It is never too late to report spiking. We urge anyone who thinks they have been a victim of spiking to come forward.

“It’s important that we are aware of incidents in order for us to not only pursue criminal charges but also inform where best to patrol and where we can work even closer with licensees to prevent further occurrences.

“In the immediate, if you or someone you know has been spiked in a licensed premises, speak with a member of the bar staff or manager who can be of assistance and call emergency services if you are unable to do so.”

If you believe you may be a victim of spiking report it to police straightaway to give the best chances of capturing evidential opportunities. If a crime is in progress call 999, otherwise we would advise calling 101 or reporting online.

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