THE Home Office is facing legal proceedings after campaigners said the department failed in its statutory duties around drink spiking, a crime which is on the rise.

The Good Law Project in conjunction with The Gemini Project, a group working to tackle sexual violence, have begun legal proceedings against the UK Government for failing to produce a report on spiking and the Home Office’s plans to address it.

There are no official statistics that are routinely published related to spiking, but between September 2021 and September 2022, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said that nearly 5000 cases of needle and drink spiking incidents had been reported to forces in England and Wales.

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A House of Commons committee report from 2022 said that recorded crimes for drink spiking increased each year between 2016 and 2019.

The Home Affairs Committee, which produced the report, has also been told by the NPCC that of the over 1900 incidents reported to officers in 2019, the true figure is “likely to be much higher”.

Last year, Parliament said the Government must publish a report on spiking and the steps they were taking to address it. The deadline for this report passed in April, but the UK Government has not produced one.

Good Law Project is supporting The Gemini Project to challenge the Home Office over the issue.

The National:

The group has submitted legal proceedings on the grounds of unlawful breach of statutory duty and legitimate expectation of the report.

Lucy Nevitt, co-founder of The Gemini Project, called spiking a “direct violation of a person's body autonomy”.

She said: “We are concerned that in not publishing this important report the Government is reneging on both their statutory duty to address the issue and their commitments to combating violence against women and girls".

“It’s impossible to solve a problem when you don’t even know how big it is,” Tamara Walters, Legal Assistant at Good Law Project, said.

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“So we are demanding that the Government publishes the report setting out the nature and prevalence of spiking, as well as the steps they are taking in response which Parliament has required it to do.”

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, passed in 2022, set out a requirement for the Government to produce a report on the nature and prevalence of spiking, including any steps the UK Government has taken to tackle the problem.

In response to a Home Affairs Committee inquiry into spiking, which set out a number of recommendations, the UK Government set a deadline of April 2023, which has not been met.

The committee published its report following the spiking inquiry in April 2022, setting out a number of recommendations.

This included staff at music festivals being given compulsory safeguarding training which would be part of a licensing requirement for events, the Home Office to increase education and awareness of the problem, and for the department to focus on improvising reporting of spiking, as well as whether a specific offence is required.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Spiking is a cowardly act which this government takes very seriously.

“Our priority is ensuring that victims receive the support they need and perpetrators of this crime are brought to justice.”