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Universities: Spiking

Question for Department for Education

UIN 32533, tabled on 7 July 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to help prevent spiking incidents at universities.

Answered on

15 July 2022

On 24 May 2022, the former Secretary of State for Education launched a new working group dedicated to tackling the scourge of spiking attacks against university students. This forms part of the wider government mission to tackle violent and sexual crimes, and strengthen victims’ rights. The group brings together vice-chancellors, police, campaigners, and victims to produce plans for practical action to help keep students safe. It will report back before the start of the autumn term.

Professor Lisa Roberts, University of Exeter Vice Chancellor, has been appointed to lead the working group and coordinate the higher education sector’s response.

Insight and evidence gathered by the working group will be used to inform the government’s report to Parliament on spiking, due to be published in spring 2023.

The government has already taken action to reclassify gamma hydroxybutyrate and closely related substances which have been used for drink spiking. It will work with law enforcement and local authorities to tackle spiking incidents, including considering the case for a specific criminal offence for spiking.

Many universities have also set up their own initiatives to tackle the issue. The University of Exeter is offering drink safety test strips, and Nottingham Trent University is funding and delivering bystander intervention training to staff in night-time city venues. The new working group will look at these and other solutions being tested on campuses across the country.