How Common is “Spiking” in Wiltshire?

We’re talking with Wiltshire Police about spiking in the area, how common it is, how to best prevent being a victim of it, and what to do if you suspect you’ve been “spiked.”

There’s been a truckload of media coverage of “spiking” nationally, with a notion towards a trend of using needles rather than the more common practises of topping up a drink or dropping a drug into a drink. If anything, it’s made me realise how totally out of touch I am with modern clubbing. While it may’ve been a while since I got my groove thang on, which I feel imperative to add I can still cut-a-rug as good as any twentysomething, clubbing was a religion in my younger years, and I retain, just about, fond memories of carefree dancing the night away; but you don’t want to hear about that!

Therefore, I’m saddened and literally sickened to hear stories in the press of youngsters who’d rather stay in than risk being spiked, and those who’ve been victims. So, I’ve called upon Wiltshire Police, to find out how common this appalling trend is in the county, what people can do to both prevent it, and what action they should take if they suspect they’ve been spiked.

Wiltshire Police told me, “This issue has caused a lot of interest recently and we are keen as a Force to make sure the story is being told correctly and the actual picture in Wiltshire is being shown.” Still, I’d like to think cases in our county are low, and figures for the past three years in Wiltshire, supplied by Wiltshire Police’s Business Intelligence Unit show while twelve incidents were reported in 2019, this was reduced to eight incidents in 2020, which I suppose lockdown had an effect, because unfortunately, this year another twelve incidents have been reported. Police are keen to point out, these figures include instances where spiking may be mentioned in the summary of the incident but may not later be confirmed, and they relate to drink spiking, not needle spiking.

Yet this leaves me pondering incidents which go unreported, and I’m alarmed to read the charity Talk To FRANK website suggesting “while the aim may be to incapacitate someone enough to rob or sexually assault them, sometimes it is just intended as a joke – a bad joke as it is very dangerous.”

Beggar’s belief someone would do this as a prank, and in turn, I must say, I’ve had trouble angling this article. Firstly, if you’re a regular reader you’ll be aware I attempt sprinkling humour into my words, but there’s nothing funny to this issue. Secondly, I originally thought I’d have something concrete to say to anyone considering spiking another person, but I changed my mind; I have nothing to say to you which you’d probably take heed of, and I could legally publish.

The concentration has to be on sending a message to potential victims, which could be anyone. I’d like to advise you not to let these nasty bastards spoil your fun, but at the same time I implore you to stay safe.

Watch your drink at all times, remain within a group of trusted friends, and if you believe you’ve been spiked, try not to panic, but find support from friends. I accept this is easier said than done, the drugs these idiots use can be seriously intoxicating, things are going to get wobbly, so much more than having too many drinks, which should act as the indicator something is amiss, especially if you’ve taken account of how much you’ve drunk.

You may question what’s happening, where you are, even who you are, commonly used drugs like ketamine and Rohypnol are seriously debilitating, so getting help urgently is paramount. Wiltshire Police say, “we would encourage anyone who believes they have been the victim of spiking or have witnessed it to contact us on 101. Any reports of spiking will be investigated and taken seriously.” Details of prevention on Wiltshire Police’s website can be found here, please read it.

FRANK gives tips to stay safe: Plan your night out, including your journey there and back. Make sure the venue you are going to is licensed – venues are required to take steps to ensure the safety of their customers. When going to a pub, club or party avoid going alone. Friends can look out for one another. Stay aware of what’s going on around you and keep away from situations you don’t feel comfortable with. Think very carefully about whether you should leave a pub, club or party with someone you’ve just met, and make sure your mobile phone has plenty of charge in it before you leave home and keep your mobile safe.

I’m pleased to read nightclubs like The Chapel in Salisbury and Tree Swindon freely distribute “bottle stoppers,” but contacting another two local nightclubs, I received no response when asking them what they’re doing to prevent such incidents. While I know it’s not an easy issue, I urge them to reconsider policies such as no glass on dancefloors, hoping they can provide a plastic alternative.   

Wiltshire Police have launched Project Vigilant, with operations being carried out on a frequent basis to proactively prevent violence and sexual offences. You can read more about Project Vigilant on the Wiltshire Police website. A Wiltshire Police spokesperson said: “We continue to work closely with licensed premises and our partners across the county through initiatives like Project Vigilant to ensure everything is being done to spot the signs of predatory behaviour.”

FRANK continues onto how to avoid drink spiking, suggesting always buy your own drink and watch it being poured. Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Never leave your drink unattended while you dance or go to the toilet. Don’t drink or taste anyone else’s drink. Throw your drink away if you think it tastes odd.

There is also an initiative led by Wiltshire Council called Ask For Angela, which the Police supports. The scheme helps people who are on a date or who have met someone at a venue and feel unsafe get help from bar staff. Anyone who feels unsafe in such a situation can get help from bar staff by simply asking to speak to “Angela.”  Staff will then assist the person in leaving the venue discreetly and getting home or to a place of safety. This could mean taking the distressed person out of sight, calling for a taxi and making sure they get home okay or even asking the person causing distress to leave the venue if appropriate. Details about this are here.

To conclude, I’d just like to reaffirm my appeal you stay safe by taking heed of the advice, because although the media are focussing on needle spiking, spiking your drink is far more common and easier to execute. Prof Adam Winstock from the Global Drugs Survey says it would be difficult to inject someone with drugs in a night out situation, “needles have to be inserted with a level of care – and that’s when you’ve got the patient sitting in front of you with skin and no clothes. The idea these things can be randomly given through clothes in a club is just not that likely.” But not impossible, and dropping a pill into a drink, well, this is far simpler, so go out and have fun, but be aware, please.


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