Scotland’s top police officer and senior law officer have been urged to do more to “keep women safe” following alarming reports of people being deliberately drugged, or spiked, by injection.
Labour’s justice spokeswoman, Pauline McNeill, wrote to Dorothy Bain and Iain Livingstone after a number of apparently unlinked incidents of women being secretly injected with substances in bars and clubs across Scotland.
Police have confirmed they are investigating reports of a case at a premises in Aberdeen City Centre on Friday night, a further incident at Dundee’s Captain’s Cabin, as well as other reported instances in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The Dundee branch of the Reclaim the Streets campaign, which was set up in the wake of the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by former police officer Wayne Couzens, has also joined a nationwide boycott of nightclubs and pubs over the issue.
‘Time to deal with perpetrators’
In her letter to the chief constable, Ms McNeill demanded details of the number of spiking cases in the past five years, how many progressed to conviction and what engagement the police are having with the nightlife sector to promote women’s safety.
The letter states: “Unfortunately spiking is not a new problem but with this new spate of attacks it is important that perpetrators are found and dealt with accordingly.”
Scottish Labour is calling for Police Scotland, licensing boards, the nightclub industry and universities to work together to ensure that women are kept safe.
Ms McNeill said: “The recent reports of drink spiking have been harrowing. This is a disgusting and dangerous criminal act that must be eradicated.
“We cannot have women in Scotland living in fear of their own safety. We need to understand the scale of the problem and what can be done to deal with it.
“That’s why Scottish Labour has today written to the lord advocate and to the chief constable of Police Scotland to get clarity on the issue.”
University’s message to victims
Dundee University officers have contacted students highlighting “appalling” reports of people being spiked via injection in the city.
University secretary and chief operating officer Dr Jim McGeorge described the reports as “extremely distressing” and highlighted the support on offer to victims.
In an email to students, he said such events “have no place in our community” and made clear that the victims of spiking injections are in no way at fault.
“Nobody should have to worry about covering up their body or shielding their drink while out for a fun night with friends,” Dr McGeorge added.
“Perpetrators of these acts are to blame and we condemn any behaviour of this nature. It is unacceptable, reprehensible, and ultimately life-threatening.”
MSP calls for urgent action
Meanwhile, Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart has written to police requesting that urgent action be taken to address the spate of “abhorrent” spiking incidents.
“It’s absolutely horrific that women in Aberdeen feel the need to boycott nightclubs because they feel so in danger from these disgusting individuals who spike drinks,” he said.
“I think we need to look at a range of options to make women feel safe, to prevent men, because let’s face it it usually is men, from spiking women’s drinks.
“We also can’t ignore the grim reality that too often women feel they won’t be taken seriously – we cannot allow that to be the case.
“If you have any information or suspicion about spiking then you must report these to the police as soon as possible and if you think you’ve been spiked then you must seek urgent medical attention.”
Police taking reports seriously
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We are aware of posts circulating on social media about spiking incidents involving injections in Scotland.
“Officers are carrying out inquiries, and a small number of reports from the Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow areas are being investigated.
“These do not appear to be linked.
“We take all reports seriously and we would encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim of spiking in any form to contact police via 101.”