THE LIVES of women are being shattered by having their drinks spiked, says an expert.
Six victims have recently had their drinks laced with drugs in Huddersfield and campaigners are appealing for the Government to get tough.
Just days after the Examiner revealed that an 18-year-old student was hospitalised after having her drink spiked at Visage nightclub campaigners at The Roofie Foundation – Europe’s only watchdog on the spiking of drinks – are urging landlords to clamp down.
Graham Rhodes, from the foundation, said: “It is a shattering experience for the women. If they have been raped they are robbed of their memory, while relationships can end because of what has happened.
“Pub owners need to realise they have to act now before it gets any worse.
“We are in the middle of an increase. It’s not yet an epidemic like it is in Australia, but it could be.”
The warnings come after the student’s drink was spiked with a liquid Ecstasy substance at the nightclub.
Police say a further three women had their drinks spiked in the King Street area of the town recently, while two other women became ill after sharing a bottle of wine at a Lindley pub at the end of September.
The Roofie Foundation says reports of drinks being spiked have increased by 200% in the last two years, with 51 incidents in the Yorkshire and the North-East in 2006.
Some 30-35% of spiking is for rape and 60% for robbery, with 5% to 10% committed for so-called fun.
Mr Rhodes added: “It is shocking that people would do this at all, let alone for a joke. Drink spiking isn’t fun. It is getting out of hand.”
Around 90% of drinks are spiked in glasses and the most common drugs used are Rohypnol, liquid Ecstasy GHB and ketamine, a horse tranquilliser.
Campaigners want the Home Office and police to get tough on culprits and also train officers to deal with victims better.
Mr Rhodes added: “The conviction rate is less than 50%, but we do recognise the police are between a rock and a hard place. Often the victims do not realise what has happened and by the time they do the forensics are gone.
“We need a massive awareness campaign by the Home Office, they are the only people who can act on this.”
Surprisingly, most victims are aged between 28 and 50, though young women are often targeted. Spiking is most common in pubs between 9pm and midnight.
It can take up to 20 minutes before the drug begins to work, with 10 minutes before victims experience the extreme affects.
Lions clubs in the Huddersfield area launched a campaign this year to provide stoppers to be used in pubs and clubs to protect bottled drinks.
For more information visit www.roofie.com or call the Helpline on 0800 783 2980 if you have been affected by the spiking of drinks or drug rape.