Universities told to draw up anti-spiking strategies by end of year

‘Perpetrators are becoming more brazen,’ higher education minister says

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 24 May 2022 16:31
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<p>Universities will be told to set up dedicated policies to tackle spiking by the higher education minister, government says</p>

Universities will be told to set up dedicated policies to tackle spiking by the higher education minister, government says

Universities are to be ordered to introduce policies to tackle spiking by the end of the year, the government has said.

A new working group will also be established involving victims and campaigners who will share ideas on how to better protect students, according to the Department for Education (DfE).

It comes months after a wave of reports over spiking involving needles sparked alarm across the country and calls for more action to tackle the crime.

University students were at the centre of protests last autumn and organised nightclub boycotts to make a stand.

The higher education minister is to ask every university to introduce a dedicated policy on spiking by the end of 2022.

Michelle Donelan praised “innovative” schemes already underway at the University of Exeter, which has been offering drink test safety strips, and Nottingham Trent University, which has offered staff training to local venues.

The DfE said the new working group will look at these initiatives and other ideas being tested on campuses. It will then make suggestions on how to best tackle spiking by the start of the new academic year.

“Recent incidents show that perpetrators are becoming more brazen in the way they are committing this appalling crime,” Ms Donelan said on Tuesday.

The minister said this was the driving force behind the new working group, who will be tasked with coming up with practical solutions to tackle spiking.

Dawn Dines, the founder of campaign group Stamp out Spiking, told The Independent the new initiatives were “the first steps” in trying to eradicate the crime.

She is among those who have been invited to take part in the working group, along with police, universities and victims.

Ms Dines said this had been her biggest win “to date” in nearly 20 years of campaigning against spiking, as it will allow her to share her expertise with police, as well as the experiences of victims.

Last month, MPs said a “victim-blaming culture” could be leading to “missed opportunities” to collect vital evidence of spiking in a wide-reaching report.

They also found there were “few deterrents” for offenders as it stands, with barriers to reporting and low prosecution rates.

Earlier this year, The Independent revealed fewer than 2 per cent of spiking offences reported to police end up with someone being charged. Labour said this was “emphatic proof” the crime was “not being taken seriously enough”.

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