Submitted by Victoria Parrott on Wednesday 15th September 2021
Published on Tuesday 21st September 2021
Current status: Open
Open until: Monday 21st March 2022
Current Signatures: 15,774
(count is updated approximately hourly)
Fund free drink spiking test kits for all bars
It’s time for the Government to take drink spiking seriously, starting with providing bars with free drink spiking test kits. This will allow for people who suspect their drink has been spiked to get a free instant result and take any necessary action.
The pubs, clubs and bars are back open and the spikers are back out too. There has been a substantial increase in reported cases of drink spiking in recent years, and many cases are not even reported to the police due embarrassment or memory loss.
Crimes are going unreported, and people feel unsafe. Introducing free drink testing kits to bars is an important step to tackling this.
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The Government responded to this petition on Monday 22nd November 2021
The Government has no plans to introduce free drink testing kits. Premises can use privately procured kits and the law allows local authorities to set conditions on night-time venues to reduce crime.
The Government takes everyone’s freedoms to feel safe and secure seriously, whether in our communities or in the night-time economy. No person should fear for their safety when going out at night. The reports of the spiking of drinks with substances, and of other attacks on individuals in night-time venues, are very concerning. Any spiking constitutes a serious criminal offence. The use of weapons and ‘date-rape’ drugs is not limited to night clubs and as a Government, we aim to keep people safe wherever they are.
Existing law already enables steps to be taken to prevent these awful crimes. The Licensing Act 2003, that governs the sale of alcohol, allows local authorities to set conditions on any business that wants to sell alcohol, in order to reduce crime. These can include requiring there to be suitably trained and accredited door staff and CCTV. Furthermore, a local licensing authority can, when appropriate, require a licence-holder to enforce entry searches as a condition of a premises licence.
Local Authorities are best placed to decide what is needed according to local circumstances. It would not be appropriate to impose blanket conditions, for example, to require all licensed premises to have drink spiking tests.
The Government is working with the police to consider the efficacy of test kits and to what extent they are appropriate for use in testing drinks in night-time venues. We urge anyone with information on spiking incidents to contact their local police force.
In addition, the Security Industry Authority (SIA) is running a long-term public safety campaign targeted at the private security industry, focussing on the prevention of violence against women and girls. The SIA has recently sent out a direct communication to all front-line licence holders (388,000) reminding them of the vital role they can play in preventing violence against women and girls. This includes identifying and preventing predatory behaviour. The note also reminds them of their training and the duty of care required of them and offers guidance on how to help and support individuals in vulnerable situations. Over the next few weeks, the SIA will be running a social media campaign reinforcing these messages and signposting licence holders to best practice and guidance. The SIA has received positive feedback from the industry on this initiative. It has also received early feedback from training providers who are looking at how they can support the SIA’s campaign in their training.
From late November to December SIA operational teams from the Violence Reduction Tactical Delivery Group will be carrying out proactive activity – focussing on Prevent messages around university establishments and associated venues in the night-time economy. Compliance and enforcement work will follow if issues are identified.
More broadly, the Government’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy, published in July, will help: drive long-term change to prevent crimes which disproportionately affect women and girls; bring perpetrators to justice; and ensure victims get the support they need. Action we are taking to support women’s safety in the night-time economy includes launching the pilot £5 million Safety of Women at Night Fund, which will support projects that target potential perpetrators, seek to protect potential victims, or deliver programmes intended to address offending behaviour. One of the successful bids from Bristol City Council specifically targets drink spiking problems in the city. They have proposed an intervention which aims to provide drink spiking kits in all police vehicles and at 60 night-time economy venues. This will be a police lead initiative and training will be provided for officers using the kit, including ensuring an appropriate response to incidents. We are also supporting the SIA’s work to ensure door supervisors’ and security guards’ qualifications include specific content relating to VAWG, and also its campaigns to remind the industry and operatives of its role and responsibility to keep people safe, with a focus on women’s safety. The VAWG Strategy commits to the Home Office working with the SIA to consider what more can be done to strengthen these safeguards further.
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