Police ordered to investigate spiking in nightclubs after rise in reports

Credit: PA

The home secretary has asked the police to urgently assess the scale of spiking in nightclubs amid a rise in reports of claims women have been drugged by injection.

Priti Patel has asked forces for an update after some said they had seen more spiking incidents in recent months.

It comes as a University of Nottingham student told ITV News she believes she was spiked with an injection during a night out with friends.

Sarah Buckle, 19, became unwell after arriving at a club in the city at the end of last month and woke up in hospital the next day with no recollection of how she got there.

She told ITV News: "From what my friends say, they thought I might have had too much to drink and there was no immediate concern.

Sarah Buckle tells ITV News her night out and how she now feels "violated" and "vulnerable"

"Then I stopped talking, went silent and stood up and almost collapsed.

"A member of staff came over and said 'is she OK?' and we were escorted out of the venue as I could not stand up. 

"Then in the taxi home I started being sick all over myself and my friends could sense something was wrong."

She was taken to hospital and woke up the next morning with no recollection.

The only indication of what may have happened was the pain in her left hand. It was bruised and had a puncture wound with a very distinct pinprick in the middle.She said she felt "violated" and cannot comprehend who would do such a thing to a person having a good time.

Speaking to MPs on Wednesday Chief Constable Sarah Crew, who leads police work on rape and adult sexual offences, said: "I think it's a fair assumption there may be a sexual motive in [injection spiking], but there isn't an indication."She said officers specialised in dealing with sexual offences would assist forces currently investigating alleged injection spiking incidents.Nottinghamshire Police said it has seen a rising number of reports of spiking over recent months and has arrested a man as part of a wider operation.

Superintendent Kathryn Craner, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Over the last few months we have seen an increase in reports where people believe that drugs may have been put in their drink.

She added: "But we’ve also received a small number of reports where people are telling us, as Zara has, that this has been associated with a pain or a mark on a part of their body, scratching sensation, and as though they have been physically spiked.”

Superintendent Kathryn Craner discusses the motives behind injection spiking

Nottinghamshire police said a 20-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of "possession of class A and class B and cause administer poison or noxious thing with intent to injure, aggrieve and annoy" following another report made on October 16.The University of Nottingham said it was “extremely concerned” by the reports and was working with police and venues to “monitor, review and learn from incidents and experiences in the city centre”.

Groups from more than 30 universities around the UK have joined an online campaign calling for the boycott of nightclubs, with campaigners seeking “tangible” changes to make them safer, such as covers/stoppers for drinks, better training for staff and more rigorous searches of clubbers.

Sarah's hand was "throbbing" the day after she went to a nightclub.

A petition launched last week to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry has already gained more than 120,000 signatures.

Nightclub owners and industry bosses have also been reacting with horror at the rise in the number of spiking cases.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said the organisation was "very concerned" about the reported increases.

He said: "It goes without saying that everyone should be able to enjoy a night-out without fearing for their own safety, and we are saddened to hear that some don't feel this way,"Mr Kill said: "The truth is, though, very real challenges still exist.

"We know this is a societal problem, but it is very difficult to say with any real certainty what the scale of this problem is."

Police Scotland is also looking into similar reports. A spokesperson said: “Officers are carrying out inquiries and a small number of reports from the Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow areas are being investigated. These do not appear to be linked.”

Spiking drinks can lead to up to ten years in prison – or even higher if other offences like rape, robbery or another assault has taken place.