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Government announces plans to tackle spiking

The government has announced plans to tackle the number of drink and needle spiking attacks against students.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan has confirmed the launch of a new working group from the Department for Education (DfE) and Home Office.

The group will include vice-chancellors, police, campaigners, and victims of spiking. It will produce plans for practical action.

Ms Donelan will also ask every institution to introduce a policy on tackling spiking by the end of the year.

According to police data, 81% of the recorded victims of spiking were students. Research by the Alcohol Education Trust found that more than one in 10 young adults had been victims of spiking.

However, the true number is likely to be much higher, as a March survey found that 97% of victims of spiking didn’t report the crime.

In October last year, there was a nationwide boycott of clubs in solidarity with victims of spiking.

“Recent incidents show that perpetrators are becoming more brazen in the way they are committing this appalling crime – which is why I am tasking a new working group to look at the issue more closely and come up with practical actions to stamp out spiking at our universities…”

–Universities Minister Michelle Donelan

Ms Donelan said: “This is an issue that is very close to my heart, having had someone close to me spiked when I was younger, which had devastating consequences. So I know first-hand what a horrific crime this is and I am determined to stamp it out.

“Recent incidents show that perpetrators are becoming more brazen in the way they are committing this appalling crime – which is why I am tasking a new working group to look at the issue more closely and come up with practical actions to stamp out spiking at our universities – I’ve been pleased to see innovative schemes already underway at the University of Exeter and Nottingham Trent University.

“I am committed to tackling real issues that affect students across campuses – whether it is ending the use of non-disclosure agreements, standing up against antisemitism or now looking to end spiking – I will always fight to ensure students are protected at our universities.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter and head of the working group, said: “Everybody has the right to be safe and enjoy their night out with friends without the fear of spiking or violence.

“As chair of the new working group I will work with partners to look at the evidence, best practice and incidents across the U.K. so that we can make practical recommendations to improve the night-time economy for students.

“We are fortunate in Exeter to have very strong working relationships with local agencies such as the Police, NHS Trusts, campaign groups, licensing and regulatory bodies which has been a key aspect of our approach to gender safety.

“This is obviously an issue for wider society that affects people from all walks of life and we want to play our part in tackling social problems in our towns and cities. We also work with our own students to take a holistic approach to spiking and night-time safety from prevention to support.”

Insight and evidence from the working group will be used to inform the government’s report to Parliament on spiking, which is due to be published next spring. It may also lead to the introduction of a specific criminal offence for spiking.

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