MPs were told by the head of the UK’s private security industry regulator on Wednesday that there is no intelligence on women being spiked with needles.
Security Industry Authority Director and former police boss Paul Fullwood spoke to Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson and Conservative MP Tim Loughton as part of a wider inquiry into spiking. The committee also took evidence from spiking victims about their experiences.
“We have no intelligence of spiking by needle as such that we found, certainly in the last few months into our intelligence systems,” said Fullwood.
Last year, there were renewed safety fears following multiple news reports that women were being spiked by needles in nightclubs across the UK.
The phenomenon first appeared last autumn after reports from women who started to detail their experiences with photographic evidence of the worrying new trend.
The BBC reported in December that Nottinghamshire Police said it had received 146 reports of spiking from victims during the previous two months. Nine arrests have been made as part of their inquiries, but so far no-one has been charged, they said at the time.
Multiple MPs called for action, including Birmingham Yardley’s Jess Phillips, who claimed that spiking was “by no means a new thing” but wanted perpetrators to fear the consequences of carrying a needle.
During a Westminster Hall debate, Warwick MP Matt Western said: “The escalation of scale seems to be quite extraordinary. They have to treat it with as much urgency as terrorism. It is really alarming.”
Fullwood added that it was his own personal view that spiking—or when alcohol or drugs are added to someone’s drink without their knowledge—is quite significantly under-reported.
“When we have looked at some of our data, we have only had around 7,500 items of intelligence around nighttime incidents and only a fraction of those, 25, is around spiking and date rape, which just cannot be accurate,” he said.
He added that offenders are mostly males, but the victims were “predominantly,” but “not exclusively,” young women.
Fullwood told the committee that intelligence is submitted from tip-offs from members of the public, the police, charity Crimestoppers, and private security companies. He said that this is anecdotal evidence, not from convictions or prosecutions.
“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 under-reported. There’s a lack of awareness. There’s a lack of understanding,” he said.