Spiking

What is Spiking? 

Spiking is when someone puts alcohol or drugs into another person’s drink or body without their consent or knowledge. This is illegal even if no other offence is committed.

People can also be the victims of ‘needle spiking’, which is injecting someone with drugs without their consent.

Spiking can happen to anyone anywhere – no matter their gender, sexuality or ethnicity – and can be carried out by strangers or by people you know.

 

What should I do if I think I've been spiked? 

Call 999 or 101 to report it to the police. We need to know about every possible spiking so we can investigate, even if no other crime has taken place. If you are out in a bar or club, you can report to a member of staff, who will be able to help and support you.

If you are injured or have symptoms you are worried about after being spiked, call 111. If you think you’ve been sexually assaulted, go to your nearest sexual assault referral centre (SARC) for specialist care and support.

If you’ve been affected by crime and you need confidential support or information, you can also call Victim Support on 08 08 16 89 111.

 

I am anxious about reporting to the police

We know it can be scary to report being spiked, but the police are here to help you. We will listen to you and take you seriously.

It is not a crime to have illegal drugs in your system (unless you are driving), so please don’t let this stop you reporting spiking.

 

What happens when I'm tested? 

We’ll take a non-invasive urine sample. Some drugs leave the body in a very short time (within 12 hours), so it’s important to test as soon as possible. Other drugs remain in the body longer, so testing will be considered up to seven days after the incident.

The test we use is the most effective way of finding out whether you have been spiked. If you are tested in a hospital or by your GP, you will need to also have a police test, as this is what can be used as evidence to support charges or convictions.

If you tell the police how much you have drunk and whether you have voluntarily taken drugs, we will be able to provide a more accurate result.

 

What happens next? 

The test results will come back in three weeks and we will keep you updated on progress.

 

Spiking Myths

There are many common myths about spiking. They might wrongly make you blame yourself or question whether what's happened is a crime.

These myths have no place in the law. We don't believe them and we won't doubt you because of them. No matter who you are or what happened, we're here to support you.
 

It isn't your fault and it's still a form of spiking no matter:

  • what your relationship to the offender is
     
  • whether you'd been drinking or taking drugs
     
  • if you asked for a drink and they gave you a double instead of a single
     
  • if someone raped or sexually assaulted you after they spiked you
     
  • how long ago it happened
     
  • whoever you are
     
  • whatever your sex or gender

 

Myth: Spiking is only done by strangers

Spiking is often seen as something done by a stranger or someone you’ve met on a night out. The truth is that some people who commit spiking offences know their victims. In some cases, they are relatives, friends or work colleagues. 

 

Myth: Spiking on its own is not a crime

Although spiking can be linked to other offences, such as sexual assault or theft, a large proportion of cases are not.

Offenders sometimes spike as a misguided joke (‘prank spiking’) or to see what happens. But spiking can be a terrifying experience. It can leave victims with lasting anxiety, particularly around clubs, bars and other venues.

And spiking is always an offence, even if nothing else happens or an attempt at theft or assault fails.

Many victims wrongly think that there is no point in reporting spiking on its own. Yet spiking can leave victims traumatised for a long time. We would like to know about any spiking incidents, so that we take action to prevent it happening again.

 

Myth: Spiking happens only to women and girls

Spiking can happen to anyone, anywhere – no matter their age, gender, sexuality or ethnicity.
Although in the majority of reported spiking incidents the victims were women and girls, men do get spiked too.

 

Myth: Spiking victims just had too much to drink

It can be hard to tell if someone was spiked or had too much to drink. But in any case, it’s important to make sure that they are safe. If they need emergency medical assistance, call an ambulance or take them to a hospital.

As for the amount of alcohol the victim had, that’s largely irrelevant. We won’t judge victims for having had alcohol voluntarily. It’s still possible that someone gave them more alcohol than they were expecting. For example, by giving them double shots instead of single ones.

t’s also true that even a small amount of alcohol can make you feel like someone spiked you. Your body can react differently to a small amount of alcohol, for example depending on whether you had anything to eat or if you’re tired.

But spiking happens regardless of whether the victim had willingly had a few drinks or took illegal drugs on a night out – or none at all. The victim is never to blame.

 

Myth: Needle spiking isn’t real

Needle spiking is rare. It’s almost impossible to inject drugs into someone’s body without them noticing it. Injecting an amount that would cause a victim to be affected by it would take a lot more than a quick jab.

That does not mean that needle spiking does not take place. We want to hear about any needle spiking incidents. We can give the victim the support they need, protect others and get a better insight into the number of needle spiking incidents.

 

Myth: You can’t tell if a drink has been spiked

If someone has spiked your drink, it’s unlikely that you will be able to smell, taste or see any difference. But some drugs do make a drink taste saltier or smell slightly.

If your drink tastes different than it did before, there’s a chance that someone may have spiked it. If you notice a salty or bitter taste in your drink, it’s possible that drugs were added. If your drink tastes funny, don’t drink it. Tell a member of staff.

 

Myth: Bar staff won’t believe I was spiked

If you feel unwell and believe that someone has spiked you, you should tell staff at the bar, club or other venue where you are.

We work with bars, clubs and other venues to train staff to recognise spiking symptoms. This helps them support spiking victims better.

Your report helps us to identify venues that might need more support to prevent spiking.

Various schemes aim to raise the standards of bars, clubs and other venues. This includes improving the response to spiking incidents.

 

Myth: Spiking only involves ‘date rape drugs’

'Date-rape drugs' are sometimes used to spike a victim’s drink. These can be any drug that incapacitates a victim. This leaves them vulnerable to sexual assault, for example.

But many other drugs can be used to spike someone. Our forensic test can detect over a hundred types of drugs, including those that some people take voluntarily as 'recreational drugs'. We won't judge you if you took illegal drugs before someone spiked you, but it helps if you tell us so that we can identify which drugs may have been used to spike you.

Alcohol could be used in an attempt to make you more susceptible to a sexual assault. Spiking can be giving someone alcohol without their knowledge or more alcohol than they were expecting.

 

Myth: I can’t report spiking if I took illegal drugs voluntarily

We understand that you may have had a few drinks or taken illegal drugs voluntarily on a night out. We won’t judge you and we won’t search you. It’s not illegal to have drugs in your bloodstream unless you’ve been driving.

All we ask is for you to tell us what drugs you’ve taken voluntarily. This helps us to identify which drugs might have been used to spike you. But if you don’t want to tell us, that’s fine.

 

Myth: The police don't take spiking seriously

Spiking victims may be reluctant to report it. That could be because they feel there is no evidence. They wrongly think that the police won’t investigate. Or that they have left it too late to report. As a result, we believe that there are many victims who have not come forward to seek our help and support.

We want to hear about any spiking incident. It doesn’t matter how long ago it took place, even if it was weeks, months or years.

Your report is important to us. We train our officers to understand and support victims of this terrible crime and do all we can to find the individuals responsible.

If you report spiking to us, you also help us get a better insight into the number of spiking incidents.
 

Page reviewed March 2024.

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