More than 1,300 reports of needle spiking have been made to UK police forces in less than six months, MPs have heard.
Jason Harwin, National Police Chiefs Council drugs lead, told the Home Affairs Committee that police forces have received 1,382 reports of such crimes since September.
Forces are investigating 14 secondary offences believed to be linked to needle spiking, including sexual assault and theft.
In contrast, Harwin, of Lincolnshire Police, said there were 1,903 crimes that could be related to spiking across the whole of 2019.
The Lincolnshire Police Deputy Chief Constable said needle spiking is a new phenomenon taking place across the UK, with some localised hotspots.
He said forces have started receiving an unprecedented volume of calls, and universities are also raising the issue.
He added: ‘The reality is when we started to have a conversation with all forces… each force was experiencing some levels of reported incidents of needle spiking.
‘Because of the volume [of reports], the feedback we are getting in terms of reported incidents, but also the other feedback we’re getting from student unions particularly, it was like, “look, this is different”.’
Harwin told MPs: ‘We’ve not seen that before – the scale of that before – we’ve never seen that before.
He added: ‘In terms of prevalence, we clearly have got an issue here in the UK. We are not seeing it elsewhere in the world apart from during the Christmas period there was a spike in events in Australia.
‘We are working with police in Australia to understand if there’s any connection between what’s happening in Australia to what’s happening in the UK.’
The committee was hearing evidence from police representatives as part of its inquiry into spiking.
Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen said the force had received 82 reports of spiking incidents between October and December. Of these, she said 25 were thought to be injection-related.
She said this is a ‘significant number that demonstrates the trend’, but added that a ‘staggering’ number of people who are spiked do not feel comfortable to report it.
She added: ‘I think that’s just a drop in the ocean because we know a lot of people aren’t coming forward.’
Many drugs experts have cast doubt on how widespread the needle spiking phenomenon is due to the logistics involved of administering an injection on a dancefloor without the other person noticing.
It is not clear how many of the 1,382 reports of needle spiking have been verified as such.
Last year, Metro.co.uk spoke to experts about how alcohol is the most commonly used drug for spiking, which can often be overlooked.
Victims or witnesses of spiking can share their experiences through the committee’s public survey, which is open until January 31.
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