The home secretary has requested an urgent update from police on investigations into a spate of reports of women having their drink spiked or being drugged by injection on nights out, the Guardian understands.
Priti Patel’s intervention comes after police in Nottingham arrested a 20-year-old man as part of an investigation into spiking, following reports of women being injected with needles in the past fortnight.
A 19-year-old woman said on social media that she had woken up with “zero recollection” of her evening at Pryzm nightclub in Nottingham and a “sharp, agonising pain” in her leg that meant she could not walk without limping, and she later discovered a pinprick mark on her leg.
Incidents of alleged drink spiking at nightclubs or house parties have also been reported, with Police Scotland saying they were investigating such cases in three cities.
The force said: “We are aware of posts circulating on social media about spiking incidents involving injections in Scotland. Officers are carrying out enquiries, and a small number of reports from the Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow areas are being investigated. These do not appear to be linked. We take all reports seriously and we would encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim of spiking in any form to contact police via 101.”
Nottinghamshire police said they had seen a rising number of reports of alleged spiking over recent months and were stepping up operations to tackle the problem.
Supt Kathryn Craner said: “Over the last few months we have seen an increase in reports where people believe that drugs may have been put in their drink – that’s due to the fact that they have experienced a distinctly different feeling to their normal reaction to alcohol.
“But we’ve also received a small number of reports where people are telling us … that this has been associated with a pain or a mark on a part of their body, scratching sensation, and as though they have been physically spiked.”
The Home Office has requested an update from police forces on their findings from investigations so far. A government source said the recent reports were “absolutely awful” and added: “We have asked for an update from the police on this and would encourage anyone to report this behaviour to the police.”
Groups from more than 30 universities around the UK have joined an online campaign calling for boycotts of nightclubs. Campaigners say they are seeking “tangible” changes to make night-time venues safer, such as covers or stoppers for drinks, better training for staff and more rigorous searches of clubbers.
A petition to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry has gained more than 120,000 signatures since launch last week.