The number of spiking cases on nights out is being “underreported quite significantly”, MPs have been told.
Experts told the Commons Home Affairs Committee that victims and premises are “reluctant” to report cases, despite the overall number of incidents rising in the past few months.
Committee members heard that victims are “predominantly” but “not exclusively” women aged between 18 and 25, with mostly male offenders.
They were also told needle spiking has become more common post-lockdown.
Paul Fullwood, of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), said: “Our evidence is that this is underreported quite significantly from what we can see.
“This is not taking away all the hard work and diligence from people trying to look for these sort of things going on, but it’s underreported.
“There’s a lack of awareness. There’s a lack of understanding.”
Mr Fullwood said there is a lack of data, with a “fraction” of reported night time incidents about spiking and date rape.
The committee was holding an evidence session into spiking on Wednesday.
Councillor Jeanie Bell, member of the Local Government Association’s safer and stronger communities’ board, said: “You’ve almost got like a two-fold problem, where you’ve got people underreporting from people attending venues and often they’ll leave the venue before they realise they’ve been spiked.
“But then you’ve also got venues who may be reluctant to come forward and say, ‘Look, we think we might have a problem here with spiking in our venue, we’re not getting reports but we think that could be an issue’, because they’re then concerned about whether they will be penalised – whether there will be licence revocations – because the licencing authority does actually have quite a considerable amount of power in terms of how to manage premises effectively.”
Ms Bell, who is also a cabinet member on St Helen’s Council, told the committee people should be encouraged to go to the police or Crimestoppers following incidents.
She added: “If we can’t get to the perpetrators and you can’t deal with the perpetrators, you’re not going to stop spiking happening.”
Michael Kill, chair of the Night Time Industries Association said there is usually a spike in reported cases around autumn as students return to university.
He told MPs there was also rise as venues reopened following lockdown.
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