Plain-clothes police could be deployed to nightclubs to tackle injection spiking reports, police chief says
Plain-clothes police could be deployed into nightclubs after reports of spiking by injection, a police chief has said.
Sarah Crew, lead for rape and adult sexual offences at the National Police Chiefs' Council, said forces would employ "proactive" measures if they believe these crimes are being carried out.
She told MPs on the home affairs select committee: "If we proactively think there are perpetrators, and we've had this recently, using that [knowledge] we will be targeting them.
"So, that might be plain-clothes police in those premises, looking for those perpetrators and that behaviour, to be able to apprehend them and to be able to capture evidence."
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The comments come after home secretary Priti Patel urgently asked police for an update on spiking amid reports of spiking incidents involving syringes in nightclubs across the UK.
While Crew, who is also temporary chief constable for Avon and Somerset police, said she had not been aware of reports of injection spiking until the morning of the committee, she said she had plans to investigate it further.
"In terms of the injection spiking, I only became aware of that this morning, so I know about the reports," she said.
"From the reports that I've seen, at the moment, I can see there are number of police forces are investigating them; they haven't been raised to me, I think there's a fair assumption there may be a sexual motive in those, but there isn't an indication.
"What I have been able to do this morning is speak to the National Crime Agency, who do look at trends that are moving across the system so that we can pick up on it very quickly."
Groups from more than 30 universities around the UK have joined an online campaign calling for the boycott of nightclubs over women's safety.
They are campaigning for "tangible" changes, like better staff training or more rigorous searching of clubbers, to make nightclubs safer for women.
Other suggestions include covers or stoppers for drinks.
A petition launched last week to make clubs legally obligated to search guests thoroughly on entry has already gained more than 120,000 signatures.
Zara Owen, 19, from Surrey told BBC Breakfast about her experiences.
"I know I didn’t drink as much as I usually would on a night-out this night, and the fact that I don’t remember anything is terrifying for me because this is something that is a very rare occasion to me," she said.
“I’ve never suffered with memory loss and then the next morning … I woke up with a really painful leg.
“I found a pin prick in my leg which was the epicentre of all pain. It made me unable to walk and I was limping around.
“As a young person who’s at university, I’m hearing stories of people who have been to nightclubs and they have been injected.
"I have heard stories of someone having it through their hand or through their back, so this kind of gave me an idea this had happened to me."
Drink spiking in England and Wales has doubled in the last three years, with a Freedom of Information Act survey revealing up to 25 people are spiked each week, according to The Mirror.
Side-effects of being spiked include memory loss, blackouts, or an inability to walk.
Watch: Student says she feels 'violated' after suspected spiking injection