Calls for awareness and vigilance over drink tampering and spiking by injection in Worthing

A Worthing borough councillor says women ‘fear’ going for a night out in the town due to spiking incidents and particularly ‘spiking by injection’.

Rosey Whorlow (Lab, Central) said visitors and residents want to ‘enjoy the night-time economy’ but are fearful for their safety.

“Residents and visitors to this town, especially but not only women, are wanting to enjoy the night-time economy, but they’ve shared their fears,” she added.

“I can attest to this personally – a lot of my friends now are really concerned about going out into town because of concerns over spiking of drinks and also spiking by injection.

“Both of these have all been reported widely in the media and incidents have been reported in Sussex.”

Councillor Whorlow wanted to know if there had been any incidents recorded in Worthing and what was being done to raise awareness.

Sean McDonald (Con, Northbrook), who is executive member for health and wellbeing at the council, said: “It’s a very important question – the Christmas period and the New Year period is right upon us when all these clubs, nightclubs, pubs, restaurants, they should be pretty packed.

“I’m actually staggered by some of the statistics I’ve been given.”

How many incidents have there been in West Sussex?

Sussex Police has started to refer to the incidents as ‘needle sticking’ as the motives for the injections, and which substances are used, remain unclear.

The force received seven reports of needle sticking in West Sussex between October 1 and November 15 – one of which was in Adur and Worthing.

Drinks tampering was reported 21 times in the same period, with five reports being made in Adur and Worthing.

Between November 15 and December 15 there were four reports of drinks tampering and four reports of needle sticking in West Sussex.

There were 12 reports of spiking by injection in neighbouring authority Brighton and Hove between 2020 and 2021.

One of these reports was made in August 2020 but 11 reports were made in October 2021.

Sussex Police said the figures may not represent the true number of needle sticking incidents as it relies on officers using the term when a report is made.

‘Have a safe Christmas’

Mr McDonald said the council’s public health officers had been working with licensed venues to raise awareness adding that ‘partnership working’ with police and bars was key to prevention.

“It’s also important to remember that alcohol remains a primary method of spiking through stealth ordering,” he said.

“This is ordering larger drinks than people have asked for and that is why the focus must remain on spotting predatory behaviour as much as method.”

Mr McDonald said that work to raise awareness and prevent spiking would be ‘expanded’ beyond the New Year.

“This work will continue into 2022 and is not going to stop just because Christmas finishes,” he said.

“I want everyone to have a very safe Christmas.”

Advice from the police to avoid drink spiking includes:

• never losing sight of your drink

• being vigilant if drinking with strangers

• having a drink buddy, such as a friend, to keep an eye on you

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