An information campaign to raise awareness of the signs and dangers of drink ‘spiking’ has been launched by the Government and the Union of Students of Ireland today.
The campaign aims to give guidance on how to help potential victims and encourage reporting of any suspected spiking incidents.
Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, said that spiking a person’s drink is a very serious act which is classified as poisoning and is a criminal offence.
She said that this offence alone can lead to a three-year prison term.
“Whatever your motivation, spiking someone is a crime with serious potential consequences for victim and perpetrator,” said Minister McEntee.
“Anyone who may have been a victim of a spiking or a witness – to a drink being spiked or to an assault or sexual assault – is urged to report it to the Gardaí.”
Minister McEntee and Minister for Education Simon Harris, as well as the USI, want to provide easily accessible information on the signs and illegality of this crime, and helpful steps on what to do if you or someone you know is targeted.
Minister Harris said that when he met student leaders recently, they raised concerns with me about reports of incidents of spiking.
“That is why we are working together to launch a campaign on the dangers and illegality of spiking,” said the Minister.
“We want everyone – from those using nightlife, to those working in it, to be aware of the signs and to take action when they are causes for concern.”
“It is important everyone is equipped with the tools to act if you are targeted by this crime or a witness of it.”
USI Vice President Somhairle Brennan said that students want the knowledge to help their friends who disclose that they have been the victim of an act such as spiking.
“We also want to ensure those that have suffered know that this is a serious criminal act, no matter the intent of the person spiking, and that you deserve support, to be heard and for it to be investigated, if that is what you want,” said Somhairle.
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:
you may feel unusually drunk
your vision may become blurred, you may feel dizzy and/or nauseous
you may have difficulty speaking or keeping your balance
you may have an unusually long hangover the next day, or gaps in your memory
It will also include guidance on steps to take to help a friend you think or know has been spiked including to:
tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff
stay with them and keep talking to them
call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates
don’t let them go home on their own
don’t let them leave with someone you don’t know or trust