Words: Eva O’Beirne
The Department of Justice and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science have collaborated with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) to create an awareness campaign for students around drug spiking and how to help those affected.
The campaign comes as a result of a worrying increase in reports of drink spiking and spiking by injection in Ireland.
Focused on creating awareness of the signs of drink ‘spiking’, the USI and government also have provided resources to give guidance on how to help potential victims and encourage reporting of any suspected incidents
The USI is also working with the nightlife industry and SUs on plans to make venues safer for students and others, looking at actions such as further training for staff, monitors looking out for spiking and bag and person searches.
USI Vice President for Welfare, Somhairle Brennan commented on the launch: “When the nightlife industry reopened, we saw a trend of spiking taking place on a national scale. This undoubtedly caused some alarm and fear among students, other partygoers and those working in the industry.”
“It is the responsibility of venues and clubs to work to keep their patrons safe and to build spaces that protect their partygoers. However, that should happen in conjunction with organisations such as USI, SUs and other welfare organisations to inform people about these issues as much as possible. And it is the job of Government and the Gardaí to treat these crimes seriously.”
“The Government recognition we are receiving today shows that spiking is serious and that there is a will to support people and address the issue.”
The campaign will include information on how to tell if your drink has been spiked, acknowledging that most drugs used in this manner are tasteless, colourless and odourless, but that there may signs in a person’s behaviour or body language, including:
It will also include guidance on steps to take to help a friend you think or know has been spiked including to:
Definite statistics of spiking in Ireland are unclear. In Northern Ireland, over 120 reports of drinks being spiked have been made to the police this year alone. Spiking a person’s drink in Ireland is classified as poisoning, which is a criminal offence. This offence alone can lead to a three-year prison term.