The rise in drink-spiking incidents could be down to students who think it’s “funny” to spike drinks with party drugs like MDMA, says a journalist who investigated the issue.
Police figures show a 103% rise in drink spiking in the UK in the three years up to the end of 2017.
Jenny Francis, a journalist with The Sun, consulted a toxicology expert for her investigation, who said drink spiking was “prevalent at university”.
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“It’s a very social environment, people are going out a lot more,” former Home Office forensic scientist Jim Campbell, who’s been working on drink spiking cases for 40 years, told the Sun.
“If you’re at a house party and your drink tastes a bit funny, then you might just put it down to cheap vodka and not realise there’s something more sinister going on.”
'They think it's funny to spike a friend's drink'
“[Jim] said there’s a number of different reasons,” Francis, who spoke to a number of women who'd had their drinks spiked for her investigation, told talkRADIO’s Eamonn Holmes.
“Sometimes it’s to rob people, sometimes it’s to sexually attack them, and sometimes university students are quite young and excited by these drugs and think it’s funny to spike a girl’s or a friend’s drink.
“They’re doing it with things like MDMA, party drugs, not just rohypnol. There are a number of reasons these numbers have gone up.”
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Co-presenter Jacqui Beltrao, clearly shocked at the notion of people spiking drinks for fun, replied: “You don’t know how someone could be affected by the pill in their drink, it could kill them!”
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken that drug a million times before,” added Francis. “You might not have eaten that day, and you’re affected.
“It’s terrifying, they end up not being able to move and being unconscious.
“Even if the person who spiked their drink doesn’t do anything, someone else might.”
'A friend saw my drink being spiked - and didn't tell me'
Shannon Quinn. Image: Shannon Quinn/Facebook
A chilling account of drink-spiking came from Shannon Quinn, a 20-year-old student, who featured in Francis' investigation.
She joined Holmes and Beltrao to share her own experience of waking up covered in bruises and not remembering how she got home.
She also has flashbacks of being "grabbed and held" on the dancefloor and being pinned down on the street, but doesn't know exactly what happened to her. Sevealed to Holmes that a friend saw a substance being put into her drink.
"For some reason decided they weren’t going to tell me until afterwards. We’re not on speaking terms anymore," she said.
Beltrao added that club bouncers often have “no sympathy with someone slumped in the toilet, they just see a drunk kid and throw them out into the street”.
Francis agreed, and also pointed out that university students who have only just met may not be able to recognise when someone is reacting to alcohol in an unusual way.
This means that they might not always spot the signs of someone who’s had their drink spiked.
“I know my best friend’s drink limit, and I’d know she doesn’t normally react like this,” she said. “But students who’ve only just met [don’t].”