Child, 11, among 400 drink spiking victims in West Yorkshire in three months

Hundreds of people in West Yorkshire reported being spiked in the last three months of 2021 Credit: ITV News

A child aged 11 was among almost 400 reported victims of drink spiking at the end of last year, according to figures from West Yorkshire Police.

In the three months up to Christmas, an average of 35 people a week came forward in the county to say they had either been injected in the skin or had a drink spiked with a drug or noxious substance.

Campaigners say the number of reported attacks is probably a fraction of the true figure, because many victims choose not to make a formal complaint to the police, fearing their allegation will not be treated seriously.

A database established by a group of friends at the University of Leeds has received more than 200 submissions from victims across the country since it was established last October.

Elysia O'Neill, from Wakefield, co-founded The Egalitarian - Spike Report after having her drink spiked on a night out in 2017.

She said: "I was out with a friend of a friend, in town drinking and I essentially woke up the next morning with black out memory and only remembering certain little bits.

"Having thought about it I hadn't had that much to drink so I thought it seemed like a spiking incident... but I kind of blamed myself anyway for being spiked."

She said she feels "lucky" it wasn't worse.

Elysia says police, bar owners and lawmakers need to take action.

"We need mandatory searches being introduced in venues before you enter, for every single person that goes in, to look for spiking equipment," she said.

She added that there needed to be a "complete change of culture" around the issue.

West Yorkshire Police says the issue of drinks spiking has been one the force has been aware of, recording and investigating for a number of years now. 

A force statement, said: "Offending can take place against women and men in a wide variety of scenarios including domestic situations in which an attempt is made by a person to harm another known to them, and in the night-time economy. 

"This kind of offending in the night-time economy has of course come to prominence as part of the wider debate around violence against women. The issue of women’s safety is rightly a key national and local issue and we do understand the genuine safety concerns that women have."

Michael Kill, the Chief Executive of the Night Time Industries Association, told the Home Affairs Select Committee in January: "What we are working very hard on at the moment... is trying to tie down the exact prevalence of spiking.

"It is incredibly difficult to say what the scale of the problem is. 

"Many of these crimes are not reported until the following morning, or people will walk away and not report them. When they are brought to our attention as an industry, we tend to involve the police, particularly if people need welfare, medical attention or support."

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