Police probe SEVEN claims of spiking at St Andrews in one month

Police probe SEVEN claims of spiking at St Andrews University student events in just one month

  • Police are investigating seven allegations of spiking at St Andrews University  
  • Students have claimed to have experienced drink spikings at school events  
  • In October, boycott of nightclubs saw protesters calling for action over the issue
  • MPs launched inquiry and are collecting evidence from alleged victims
  • Police Scotland are investigating seven allegations of spiking at the University of St Andrews in just one month.

    Students at the prestigious school in Fife, which ranked top of the Sunday Times University Guide this year, have claimed to have experienced a spate of drink spikings at school events including balls.

    Some also believe they have been injected with needles following an increase in reports of similar incidents across the UK.

    In October, a week-long, nation-wide boycott of nightclubs dubbed the ‘Girls Night In’ campaign saw protesters calling for action over the issue. A petition to make it a legal requirement for all nightclubs to ‘thoroughly search guests on entry’ garnered more than 170,000 signatures.

    Home Secretary Priti Patel subsequently demanded an update from police investigating the scale of the UK’s ‘spiking epidemic’. 

    MPs launched an inquiry into the issue and are currently collecting evidence from alleged victims of drink spiking. 

    Police Scotland are investigating seven allegations of spiking at the University of St Andrews (pictured) in just one month

    Police Scotland are investigating seven allegations of spiking at the University of St Andrews (pictured) in just one month

    In October, a week-long, nation-wide boycott of nightclubs dubbed the ‘Girls Night In’ campaign saw protesters calling for action over the issue (file image)

    In October, a week-long, nation-wide boycott of nightclubs dubbed the ‘Girls Night In’ campaign saw protesters calling for action over the issue (file image) 

    Only seven per cent of ‘spiking victims’ in West Midlands had knock-out drug in system when tested, police reveal 

    Only seven per cent of drinks that were reportedly spiked in the West Midlands resulted in a positive drugs test, police have said.

    A report by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner found that apparent spiking cases have surged in recent months due to ‘heightened awareness’ of the issue, with 95 offences recorded in November.

    Figures also showed that spiking offences made up more than one in 10 of all crimes classed as ‘violence with injury’.

    However only seven per cent of them resulted in a positive drugs test, according to findings.

    West Midlands Police has said it has been consulting scientists in a bid to understand spiking.

    It comes amid a nationwide spiking ‘epidemic’ in recent months that has prompted backlash from students and nightclubs. 

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    Police Scotland said it is still investigating seven incidents between October and November, while three other allegations have been withdrawn and another one was concluded as no criminality having taken place.

    The student union said it had introduced measures to help tackle the problem and warned anyone found spiking on their premises would be banned for life.

    Lauren Gravener, who reported having her drink spiked at the Welly Ball – an annual charity event held on the outskirts of St Andrews in November – said she was so severely incapacitated after her spiking, she was unable to return home that night.

    ‘I got spiked a few weeks ago at the Welly Ball and was consequently reported as a missing person until I was found early that morning,’ she said.

    ‘I reported it to the police, who said that they had never encountered a case of spiking in Fife in their 12 years of police work.

    ‘I know that at the time, which was two days after the Welly Ball, that two others had gone to the police saying they believed they had been spiked as well.’

    Another woman said: ‘After a normal number of drinks over a couple of hours, I was approached by a few guys at the bar.

    ‘After getting a bad vibe from them and refusing a drink, I went home shortly after, while feeling suddenly extremely disoriented, dizzy, sleepy, and nauseated, and soon got violently ill.’

    One student claimed she had had to help a friend after her drink was spiked at the university’s Opening Ball.

    She said: ‘Her drink was sitting on the bar for just a couple minutes and [she was] standing next to it.

    ‘I didn’t recognise what was happening to her as being drugged, and neither did the workers who were helping me clean her up, but in hindsight it was totally clear that’s what had happened.’

    One female student said her flatmate had been spiked by a needle on a night out at the Student Union.

    ‘My flatmate came back home in an absolute state, but had only had one drink,’ she claimed.

    ‘At first we brushed it off, but after passing out for hours she woke to find an odd bruise on her arm. On closer inspection, it had a puncture mark in the middle. 

    One woman, Juliet McGeough, shared a photo of a puncture wound in her back after she went to a bar in Reading, Berkshire last year

    One woman, Juliet McGeough, shared a photo of a puncture wound in her back after she went to a bar in Reading, Berkshire last year

    Protesters following a surge in reports of drink spiking in Manchester last autumn

    Protesters following a surge in reports of drink spiking in Manchester last autumn

    Love Island’s Sharon Gaffka tells how ‘two male paramedics’ didn’t believe she’d been spiked after she collapsed in loo while at lunch with friends in a bar – as she campaigns to end ‘epidemic’ of attacks 

    A former Love Island star has opened up about her shocking experience of being left barely breathing after having her drink spiked while having lunch with her friends.

    Sharon Gaffka hit her head on a toilet and was found wedged behind a locked cubicle door after her drink was interfered with while out celebrating one of her friend’s birthdays.

    She said two male paramedics attended but passed her off as someone who had been ‘over drinking’ rather than a victim of spiking.

    Ms Gaffka, who appeared on this year’s edition of the ITV dating programme, has collected more than 1,000 testimonies for the Home Affairs Select Committee as part of an inquiry into spiking.

    Recent research has shown a third of women have either been a victim of spiking or know someone who has, yet only 8 per cent of victims have reported the crime to the police.

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    ‘She went to the hospital, scared it could have been a dirty needle, but she was told there was nothing they could do once the drug was out of her system.’

    Student union the St Andrews Students’ Association introduced measures including random bag searches, increased training for security, test strips for both drinks and urine available upon request, and increased signage throughout venues to highlight the prevalence of spiking and means of prevention.

    Anna-Ruth Cockerham, director of wellbeing, told MailOnline: ‘The Students’ Association has taken a range of measures to tackle spiking and ensure that our students can have a safe night out.

    ‘The responsibility for spiking lies solely with the perpetrators and anyone found spiking on our premises will be banned from our premises for life and referred to the university conduct officer and the police.’

    Professor Clare Peddie, vice-principal for education at St Andrews University, told MailOnline: ‘We take this issue extremely seriously.

    ‘It’s clear from evidence given to the Home Affairs Committee this week that this is a deeply worrying and apparently widespread problem which generates a significant concern among students here and at universities around the country.

    ‘We are working very closely with our Students’ Association and other student groups and have implemented practical measures to protect our students and help them to feel more secure, including ensuring that our student services critical responders are equipped with test strips.

    ‘We have also held helpful discussions at a senior level with Police Scotland and continue to work closely with our community police officers on steps to support prevention, evidence gathering and detection.’

    A Police Scotland spokesperson said: ‘Between Saturday, October 16 and Thursday, November 18 2021, 11 people reported to police that they believed their drinks had been spiked whilst out socialising in St Andrews.

    ‘Of those reports, three were withdrawn by the complainers, and following investigation, one has been concluded as no criminality had taken place. Enquiries are ongoing in to the remaining seven reports.’

    The spokesperson added there had been no further reports of spiking since November 18.

    Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said: ‘Police Scotland is working with a range of partners, both locally and nationally, to ensure licensed premises are safe spaces for all, through the continued delivery of ByStander Awareness training.

    ‘We are also working in partnership with other emergency services, student bodies, universities/colleges and third-sector organisations to raise awareness and provide support for anyone affected.’








    What do the experts say on reports of injection spiking? 

    Is it possible?

    Yes – and there are credible reports where people have woken up with needle marks having been spiked.

    But the likelihood of it being a widespread phenomenon is ‘deeply improbable’, according to one medical consultant. 

    David Caldicott, an emergency medicine consultant and founder of drug testing project WEDINOS, told VICE News: ‘The technical and medical knowledge required to perform this would make this deeply improbable. 

    ‘It’s really hard to stick a needle in someone without them noticing, especially if you have to keep the needle in there for long enough, maybe 20 seconds, to inject enough drugs to cause this.’

    Could someone not give the injection really fast?

    Yes – but they’d need a very powerful drug to do so discreetly, experts say.

    GHB is one of the most well known ‘date rape’ drugs and is also self-administered in small doses by people recreationally.

    But Guy Jones, senior scientist at drugs charity the Loop, told VICE it would be a ‘poor candidate’ for injection because of the large amounts of fluid needed. 

    ‘Therefore (it would require) a thick, painful needle. This means that the substance involved would be something that would be highly detectable for several days in a toxicology screening,’ he said.

    Adam Winstock, director of the Global Drug Survey, added: ‘There are very few easily accessible drugs / medicines that could be given intramuscular in a small enough volume that people would not notice and the effects would take some time to come on. 

    ‘What you see in the movies is not reality. People need to keep their drinks close to them, avoid taking them from strangers and keep an eye out for their mates.’

    Can drugs be administered to any part of the body?

    Yes – but some parts are more effective than others

    Mr Jones told VICE: ‘Where drugs can be injected non-intravenously, there are specific injection sites that do not work well.

    ‘The back is one of these unsuitable sites due to the low fat-muscle content, and high concentration of pain receptors.’

    What about drink spiking?

    While injection spiking is still possible, drink spiking is a lot more common.

    Incidents of drink spiking in the UK increased by 108 per cent between 2015 and 2018, with 179 incidents taking place in 2017 alone. 

    This is only the officially recorded numbers – and is likely to be much higher as it is common for people not to report it to police.

    Charity Drinkaware advise: ‘Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know and if they’re available, use drink stoppers, which can be purchased online, for the top of your bottle.’ 

    Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most commonly known ‘date-rape’ drugs.

    Recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine and other ‘party-drugs’ are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks. 

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