‘Drink Spiking’ – Reality or Urban Myth?

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To ‘spike’ a drink means to put alcohol or drugs into someone’s drink, without their knowledge or permission.

Drink spiking is illegal, whatever the intent. This means that slipping alcohol or drugs into a friend’s drink, as a joke, is against the Law. People who spike drinks can be charged with an offence, fined or jailed.

The original offence in Law in the UK can be found in the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, Article 24 in that,

Maliciously administering poison with intent to injure, aggrieve, or annoy any other person.

Whosoever shall unlawfully and maliciously administer to or cause to be administered to or taken by any other person any poison or other destructive or noxious thing, with intent to injure, aggrieve, or annoy such person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude.”



 

Every Friday and Saturday night, people gather in the pubs and nightclubs of Jersey, to relax and enjoy themselves at the end of the working week. Depending on where you go, the premises can often be a tightly packed mass of bodies with very little room to move, with music, either canned or live, played at a decibel level that can make it difficult to communicate verbally.

People are there to enjoy themselves and relax but, in such circumstances, it gives those with nefarious intentions more chance to work undetected. This can include dealing illicit drugs or the ‘spectre in the room’, the possibility of slipping a substance into a person’s drink in the hope that they may be able to take advantage of that person later on. This is called ‘drink spiking’ and is often talked about but not taken too seriously by many people, who believe that while this kind of activity might happen regularly in big cities in the UK, surely it is a rarity in Jersey.

It can be very difficult to know the difference sometimes, between drink spiking and consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol, as some of the symptoms are identical, but there ARE marked differences.

When I was a serving police officer, Jersey had a case where a young lady believed that she had her drink spiked in a local nightclub and remembered fragmented bits from the night before, but large parts of her memory were blank. She was found wandering the inner streets of St. Helier town centre, partially clothed and disheveled. When questioned, she had some recollection of events and remembered someone having sex with her but not being able to move or cry out, even though she tried. She described herself feeling like she was paralysed but, at the same time, aware of what was happening. As a result of this complaint, several young men were charged with rape and other sexual assaults.

In September 2005, in a front page article in the Jersey Evening Post, a young lady alleged that her drink had been spiked in a St. Helier nightclub on the Friday night of a Bank Holiday weekend. In the article she criticised the Police for failing to take her complaint seriously.

It is alleged that she suddenly collapsed on the dance floor, while dancing with friends, and immediately became incoherent. This was said to be totally out of character. Once her friends had taken her home, the Police were called.

Samples were taken at the Police Station but there was a delay getting them tested (the report does not say what samples were taken; ie whether they were urine and/or blood) and they were sent to the States Analyst on the following Tuesday due to the Bank Holiday. Later, the Police stated that incidents involving ‘drink spiking’ were rare and that the huge majority of alleged incidents ended up being alcohol related. However, a set of circumstances meant that the samples were not tested until several days later.

This year in the United Kingdom, incidents of drink spiking has more than doubled in the last three years, according to figures from participating UK Police Forces, made public after a series of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. The results showed a 108% increase since 2015.

In total, there were 992 cases reported by forces who responded to the FOI request. Add that figure to the majority of people who did not report an incident and the problem appears to be growing fast.

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The following is a list of the most commonly used ‘noxious liquids or substances’ used in ‘drink spiking’. It is not an exhaustive list but highlights those known to be used more frequently.

Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB)

The effects on a person are similar to Ecstasy (Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) and comes in powder or liquid form. The effects take between 10 and 20 minutes. It is a dangerous on its own but more so when mixed with alcohol.

The effects include the inability to speak coherently, a lack of coordination, sleepiness over prolonged periods for days afterwards, amnesia, hallucinations and sometimes short term comas.

Ketamine (K, Ket)

This is a drug used by veterinary surgeons as an anaesthetic for larger animals like horses and cattle but is also used by people as an illicit substance. The effects of taking Ketamine (K, Ket) can create an out-of-body experience and comes in liquid or powder form. People also suffer from boredom, nausea, confusion, amnesia and visual problems. It takes between five and twenty minutes to work.

Rohypnol (Roofies)

This is found, most often in pill form. It is a depressant similar to Valium but more potent. Effects include slurred speech, lack of concentration, poor coordination, dizziness, lack of inhibition, nausea and amnesia. It takes between fifteen and thirty minutes to take effect.

Alcohol

Some people might be wondering why alcohol has been included? However, if administering alcohol to another person’s drink was done with intent to incapacitate them (even if done as a joke), this is also known as ‘spiking’ a drink. The person imbibing, may believe that they are either drinking a soft drink or a single shot of alcohol. Any alcohol added to a drink without the owner’s knowledge or permission could be seen as ‘administering a noxious thing’ and the person administering it could be liable to prosecution.

List of Additional Drugs used in Spiking can include:

Benzodiazepines; Cocaine; Midazolam; Ethanol; Tamazepam; Hypnotics; Ecstasy; Burunganda; LSD; Methamphetamine; Barbiturates; Valium and Alcohol.

Effects of the drugs vary dependent on a person’s age, sex, size and on what type of drug or alcoholic beverage was given, as well as how much you have already consumed. These drugs are often colourless and odourless.

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TIPS AND TRICKS

  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers. However, if you do, make sure that you observe the bar person pour the drink and then watch it until it is in your hand. It is not advisable to allow a stranger to go to the bar, out of your sight line, and return with the drink when you have no knowledge of whether it has been tampered with or not. It only takes a second to drop something into the drink.
  • If you take a drink and start to feel unwell between five and twenty minutes afterwards and you know that it was either your first drink, or that you have not drank enough to feel the normal effects of alcohol, seek out a friend or someone you can trust to help you. Failing that, speak to the Manager, bar staff or door security personnel.
  • Do not leave you drinks unattended at any time. If you are at a table with friends and you have to leave to go to the bathroom, make sure that there is a trusted friend who remains at the table.
  • Do not accept an unsolicited drink from a stranger, who may just appear at your location with drink in hand. You do not know the drink’s provenance.
  • If you go to the bathroom and there is nobody that you trust to look after your glass; take the drink with you to the bathroom. Don’t let it out of your sight.
  • Do not mix alcohol knowingly with illicit drugs; it is not advisable to take any illicit drug with alcohol as the effects may change dramatically from those symptoms where either alcohol or drugs are taken in isolation.

 

The following information has been taken from the web page of the Jersey Action Against Rape (J.A.A.R.) with kind permission of the Charity management. 

If the worst happens, and you are sexually assaulted and/or raped, there is a Jersey Charity that offers advice and support to the victims of such an assault. Below, I have reproduced the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.

 

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I have just been sexually assault; What do I do ?

  • Try to be somewhere that feels safe.
  • Keep warm and drink plenty of fluids (not alcohol).
  • If possible, see if a friend or someone you trust can be with you.
  • If you want to report the assault, contact the police, so they can arrange a forensic examination as soon as possible.
  • They will want to get as much evidence as possible, so don’t wash, eat or drink (alcohol).
  • If you think you would like to report the incident to the police, you can contact the police directly (999; 112 or 612612 if in Jersey) or phone the J.A.A.R. Helpline (01534-482800).
  • Have any injuries treated by your doctor or at a hospital.
  • If you change your clothes, put them in a bag and give them to the police.
  • Tell the police if you think you may have been drugged or your drink ‘spiked’. They will arrange for blood and urine tests.
  • You might not feel like reporting now, but you might in time. So, keep the clothes that you were wearing at the time of the assault, don’t wash them and put them in a plastic bag.
  • If you wash yourself, use safe products, not household cleaning products as they can be harmful.
  • If there is a possibility of pregnancy, you may want to take the morning after pill (up to 72 hours after), or have a coil fitted (up to 5 days after).
  • You can buy emergency contraception at a pharmacy.
  • Or you can go to your family planning clinic, genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinic or GP.
  • If you are worried about sexually transmitted infections, you can have fully confidential advice and treatment from your nearest GUM clinic. You do not need a letter from your doctor. You don’t have to give the clinic your real name.

What is Rape ?

Rape is forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse. This happens in many different situations. Here are definitions of the different types of rape.

Domestic rape

This is where the crime is committed in a relationship. They could be a family member, a partner or an ex-partner.

Date/Acquaintance rape

This is where the victim and offender are known to each other, they may be a friend or an acquaintance. It is possible that they are known to each other in a non-intimate capacity, through things like dating or meeting that night in a bar or club.

Stranger rape

This is where the attacker is unknown to the victim. These incidents are less common in Jersey.

Drug/Alcohol assisted rape

This is where alcohol or drugs are intentionally given to a victim for the purpose of committing rape or alternatively where they have consumed a sufficient quantity where their ability to consent is impaired.

If you are thinking of reporting an incident of this nature to Police please keep in mind that drugs only stay in the system for between six and 16 hours, so for officers to take this kind of evidence it needs to be done as soon as possible.

What is Consent ?

Consent is basically agreeing to do something – in this case having sex with another person. Quite simply, if you do not give your consent, it is rape.

The official police guidance defines consent as the person “agreeing by choice and having the freedom and capacity to make that choice”.

So if you make the decision based on fear, fraud or because of drug or alcohol intake, it is not true consent and will amount to rape.

Many people associate rape with a stranger attack in a dark alley. This is not the case. In Jersey 90% of sexual assaults happen when the victim and attacker are known to each other.

But no matter what the situation or relationship, sex without consent is rape.

What are the effects of rape and sexual assault ?

Sexual assault and rape are amongst the most devastating of human experiences. The terror, helplessness, humiliation and pain involved result in severe distress which can have an impact on every aspect of the victim’s life. The effects will vary from person to person because everyone reacts differently to trauma and crisis, and sometimes a person will not react in the way they themselves might have expected. However, certain common patterns emerge.

  1. Common Immediate effects –These may persist for several days or weeks:
  • Shock and withdrawal: the victim may be unable to speak about the experience. S/he may appear ‘frozen’.
  • Panic and confusion: the victim may be very distraught and may be very frightened and show signs of extreme fear.
  • A tendency to dwell on the details of the assault.
  • Recurrent and intrusive flashbacks of the assault, where for the individual it feels like a reliving of parts of the experience, with all of the feelings and reactions that were there at the time.
  • Sleeplessness and nightmares.
  • Hypervigilance: a person may be on the alert all the time and may be easily startled.
  • Calm and rational: some people respond to severe trauma by retreating from the feelings and becoming very reasoned and logical.
  • Denial: the person may minimise what has occurred and try to deal with it by behaving as nothing has happened.
  • Obsessive washing: the victim may feel dirty and tainted and wash over and over again.
  • Physical trauma: injuries such as bruising, cuts or soreness around the genital or anal area may have been inflicted. If the victim was beaten or physically assaulted, there may be other injuries. However, the absence of physical trauma is not an indication that a person has not been raped.

2.      Common Long term effects

  • Recurrent and intrusive recollections of the assault.
  • Self-blame and guilt: the person may agonise over what it was s/he did which provoked the attack, regardless of the fact that it was not his or her fault.
  • Fear: the person may feel unsafe, even in familiar places with people s/he knows.
  • Deep emotional pain: the person may experience strong feelings of anger, sadness etc.
  • Dramatic mood swings, particularly following exposure to events or places similar to the setting of the assault.
  • Difficulty in trusting, even those whom s/he knows and cares for, and difficulty in trusting and feeling safe in the company of the opposite sex.
  • Sexual difficulties: recollections of the assault may impinge on the person’s sexual relationship with his or her partner.
  • Impaired concentration and memory.
  • Difficulty in coping with normal routines.
  • Development of addictions (drink, drugs, food).

Is Healing possible ?

No matter how great the victims difficulty in coping with the assault, it does not mean that s/he has developed serious or permanent psychiatric or emotional problems. The victim of sexual violence can recover and reclaim his or her life.

Am I going mad ?

When someone has been raped or sexually abused they can experience nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive memories and high levels of fear and distress. Counselling helps people become aware that these feelings are a normal reaction to the abnormal events they have experienced.

Why do I need Counselling ?

All of us, both men and women, experience difficulties in our lives. Some experiences are too hard to deal with on your own. Maybe you can’t talk to family or friends, or there is a limit to the help they can give.

Our counsellors are trained to provide the confidential support necessary to help you heal from the hurt of rape and sexual abuse.

How does Counselling help ?

Counselling helps by providing a person the time and space, not always available in other parts of their lives, to explore their feelings in relation to their trauma. It is an enormous relief for someone to be able to talk, perhaps for the first time, about what happened and how it has affected their life. It is helpful over time, and without pressure or expectation to be able to open up to and express painful memories and feelings that may have been bottled up for a long time.

How long does Counselling take ?

The length of time counselling takes varies from person to person. Everyone is an individual and each person’s experience is unique, so the duration of their counseling cannot be predicted. It can vary from a few weeks up to a few months or longer. Most people feel some benefit even after a few sessions.

It is always the choice of the individual whether or not they wish to continue with the counselling process. There will always be time to discuss this with their counsellor.

Is Counselling Free ?

Yes

Once again, the Helpline for the J.A.A.R. (Jersey Action Against Rape) is

01534 – 482 – 800

 

 

 

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