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Hospitality leaders demand drink spiking law after government U-turn

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Hospitality industry leaders have called for drink spiking to become a recognised criminal offence after the government appears to have made a U-turn on plans to introduce a specific law to cover the problem.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said the association was “extremely disappointed” with the government’s decision to backtrack on Priti Patel’s previous plans for a new, specific offence for drink spiking to be created.

The move was declared in a letter to home affairs committee chair and Labour MP, Dame Diana Johnson.

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Home Office minister Sarah Dines said a specific law to cover the offence was “unnecessary” and that the existing laws already dealt with all methods of spiking.

She did note that the government would consider consulting on changing the statutory guidance on drink spiking to give specific examples of spiking, with explicit reference to it being an illegal offence.

NTIA chair and co-founder of The Warehouse Project, Sacha Lord, took to social media to write: “I’m on a mission to overturn the government’s decision not to make spiking a specific offence.

“Spiking should be a specific criminal offence.”

He added: “This U-turn is shameful and dangerous. What sort of a message does this send to all those girls and women who lobbied the government to bring this in?

“This isn’t about politics, this is about safety at night. Whatever is in place at the moment isn’t working.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, commented: “Tackling drink spiking is an important issue and one that our members take extremely seriously as part of their wider responsibility to ensure pubs are safe and welcoming spaces for customers and team members, and we support incorporation of drinks spiking within this guidance.

“However, any measures introduced to prevent incidents and to support victims must be based on actual evidence, so that they are both effective and proportionate. Partnership working, staff training, and customer awareness are key and more effective than imposing general conditions on all venues, which we would not support at this point.”

In the year up to September 2022, nearly 5,000 cases of needle and drink spiking incidents were reported to police in England and Wales, according to data from the National Police Chiefs Council.

Tags : drink spiking
Joshua Walton

The author Joshua Walton

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