The UK Government has launched a new working group dedicated to ‘stamp out’ the number of spiking attacks against students.
A promise has been made today that students will be safer as spiking is set to be ‘stamped out’ at universities following the launch of a new working group from the Department for Education and Home Office.
This forms part of the wider government mission to tackle violent and sexual crimes and strengthen victims’ rights.
An Issue ‘close to my heart’
The working group will be led by Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, and made up of together vice-chancellors, police, campaigners and victims to produce plans for practical action to help keep students safe.
Tackling spiking attacks is one the Minister, is keen to ‘stamp out’, as it is an issue she said is ‘close’ to her after having someone ‘close’ to her having been spiked.
‘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,’ she said, ‘So I know first-hand what a horrific crime this is and I am determined to stamp it out.
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‘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.’
Donelan said she is ‘committed’ to this alongside other ‘real issues’ such as NDA’s and ending antisemitism.
She said: ‘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.’
Universities Taking action
Last month a Home Affairs Select Committee report found the true prevalence of spiking – which can range from drink spiking to attacks with needles – remains unknown.
A recent survey by student outlet The Tab suggested 11% of students believed they have had their drink spiked, and research by the Alcohol Education Trust found more than one in ten young adults had been victims of spiking.
The Government has already taken action to reclassify GHB and closely related substances, which have been used for drink spiking, and will work with law enforcement and local authorities to look at further action to tackle these horrific crimes, including considering the case for a specific criminal offence for spiking.
Many universities have already set up their own initiatives to tackle the spiking such as the University of Exeter which offers drink safety test strips to students.
Professor Lisa Roberts, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter 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 UK 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.’