House parties are “hotbeds” for spiking drinks and a rise in incidents is likely on new year’s eve, experts warn.
It comes after women have reported suffering attacks by injection in nightclubs and bars in recent months.
The Alcohol Education Trust has found 35 per cent of drinks-spiking incidents have taken place at private parties – higher than the 28 per cent at nightspots.
Helena Conibear, chief executive, told The Independent: “With new year’s eve ahead, we do need to keep our wits about us wherever we choose to party. Drinks-spiking is likely to rise because more people are out with friends.”
She said people are more likely to overindulge on new year’s eve so need to extra vigilant of both their own and friends’ safety and added that there are more house parties than usual on the last night of the year.
“We are extremely concerned that while the industry works towards ensuring people can have a safe night out in well-run, regulated environments, illegal events and house parties – according to early statistics – are a hotbed for these crimes and must be dealt with by the police.”
Ms Conibear warned domestic premises are “unregulated” and have a dearth of medical facilities so are therefore a “huge cause for concern”.
Charities and campaigners recently told The Independent that incidents are often dismissed by both the police and the NHS, which generally does note carry out blood and urine tests check if victims have been spiked and survivors are routinely being left with nowhere to turn.
Bryony Beynon, one of the founders of the Good Night Out Campaign, also issued a warning about the prevalence of spiked drinks at house parties.
She told The Independent: “All forms of gendered violence are disproportionately perpetrated by someone who is already known to the victim and yet the narratives in relation to spiking are still heavily focused on so-called ‘stranger danger’.
“Focusing on calling out individual behaviour and challenging attitudes that do not respect consent or autonomy are our biggest tools to interrupt the harm of spiking.
“At house parties, drug and alcohol consumption is entirely unregulated and bottles may be accessible to all and frequently left unattended in a common space such as a kitchen and, of course, people are likely to bring and share.”
She argued while this in itself is “not inherently harmful”, it does nevertheless necessitate “caution and awareness” and said: “In the UK we still have a zero-tolerance approach to drugs which leaves many unaware of how to reduce harm when choosing to consume substances. There needs to be much more non-abstinence-based drugs education on what to look out for in terms of an overdose, whether as a result of drugs knowingly taken or not.”
The Independent recently reported that one woman in nine says she has had her drink spiked. YouGov also found one in three said she knows someone who has been a victim of her drinks being spiked. Four in 10 women said they do not believe the police would take them seriously if they reported their drink had been spiked.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council has revealed that about 200 drink-spiking incidents have been reported in recent months. A number of forces are looking into reports of people being drugged by injection and three men have been arrested in Nottinghamshire and in Lincoln on suspicion of spiking drinks or using injections.