Detectives investigating three cases of women reporting being spiked with a needle during nights out in Exeter have said forensic tests found no evidence of date rape drugs in their system.
The three women were in bars and nightclubs in Exeter during the week and reported feeling unwell.
Devon and Cornwall police took samples from each of the three women performed toxicology tests which found no evidence that they had been spiked or ‘drugged in another manner’.
Officers said they wanted to reassure the women and give them ‘peace of mind’.
According to The TImes, a fourth complainant was ‘outside the forensic window’, meaning it was impossible to test her blood or urine as too much time had passed since the alleged drugging.
Officers launched the investigation after the women reported being ‘targeted in assaults using needles or through having their drinks spiked’.
A police spokesperson said: ‘We hope the clear tests will give peace of mind to these women that they were not victims of spiking.’
Four women in Exeter approached police this week after reporting they feared they had been spiked while in nightclubs in Exeter. Police found no evidence of date rape drugs in three of the women while the fourth reported the alleged incident too late to recover a sample of drugs (picture posed by models)
Kirsty Howells, 25, shared a picture from her hospital bed after she was spiked – when victims are drugged without their knowledge either physically with needles or via their drinks – in Swansea one evening
Kirsty, who is from Swansea, was out enjoying a drink earlier this month when she was spiked with an unknown substance that left her unconscious. She said she was ‘very shaken’ and now ‘anxious’ to go out drinking again any time soon.
This comes after a Kirsty Howells, 25, was pictured unconscious in a hospital bed after being ‘injected with Ketamine’ amid a string of women reporting being ‘spiked’ by injection in nightclubs.
Miss Howells posted a photo taken in hospital following a night out in Swansea.
It was shared on Facebook by her aunt, who said Ms Howells is thought to have been ‘injected with ketamine’, before being rushed to A&E by her boyfriend.
Chief Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw, Divisional Commander for Brighton, said officers are speaking to two victims who felt unwell after a night out in the city on Tuesday night, October 19, and the early hours of Wednesday morning, October 20
He said: ‘They suspect they had been injected. They are being supported by officers.
‘We are still at a very early stage in our investigation and a number of enquiries are being made.
‘We take all reports incredibly seriously and ask anyone who believes they have been a victim or witness to spiking to contact us. We also encourage people to report any suspicious behaviour to us – either online or via 101, or by calling 999 in an emergency.’
Ilana El-baz (pictured above), 20, has recalled how she was left semi-paralysed on a staircase after returning home from a Bristol nightclub three weeks ago. She shared a recording filmed by her boyfriend showing her struggling to get up the stairs with her eyes rolling as her head falls into the railings
Officers are increasing patrols as part of their continued work policing the night-time economy, and will continue working closely with partners and licensed premises on initiatives to help keep their patrons safe.
Ch Supt Burtenshaw added: ‘We are aware of the national media and the worry and anxiety this may cause those wanting to enjoy the night-time economy.
‘Everyone should be able to enjoy themselves safely and to support this there are officers who will be on patrol across the city over the weekend.
‘Our Licensing Teams are working hard with venues to raise awareness about spiking and ensuring that appropriate measures are in place to prevent this from happening.’
In recent days a number of women have shared their experiences of being spiked, including Ilana El-baz, 20, who recalled how she was ‘left semi-paralysed’ on a staircase after returning home from a Bristol nightclub three weeks ago.
Today, two teenagers, 18 and 19, were arrested ‘on suspicion of conspiracy to administer poison’ in Nottingham, while a 35-year-old man was last night arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs with intent to administer them at a nightclub in Lincoln.
Students are planning to boycott nightclubs next week as part of nationwide protests, with more than 30 universities taking part in the campaign in a bid to force venues to increase safety measures.
Following reports of spiking by needles in Nottingham, a petition calling for it to be a ‘legal requirement’ for nightclubs to ‘thoroughly’ search customers upon arrival has been signed by more than 130,000 people.
The Girls’ Night In campaign will spread across 43 university towns and cities over the next fortnight. It comes in response to a reported rise in drinks being ‘spiked’ and a new alarming trend of girls being injected unknowingly with drugs.
Victims have become violently ill while out and only realised they had been injected when they found ‘pin prick’ marks on their bodies.
Those taking part in the boycott will stay at home on a designated night to raise awareness of the attacks and encourage venues to improve security.
New figures have also emerged showing 15 per cent of females, seven per cent of males and 17 per cent of those identifying as other have had their drink spiked, according to a snap poll by The Alcohol Education Trust.
The survey, which was open for a week from October 12 and had 747 responses, asked: ‘Do you think you have ever had one of your drinks spiked?’, with 94 replying yes and a further 26 saying ‘maybe’.
What do the experts say on reports of injection spiking?
Is it possible?
Yes – and there are credible reports where people have woken up with needle marks having been spiked.
But the likelihood of it being a widespread phenomena is ‘deeply improbable’, according to one medical consultant.
David Caldicott, an emergency medicine consultant and founder of drug testing project WEDINOS, told VICE News: ‘The technical and medical knowledge required to perform this would make this deeply improbable.
‘It’s really hard to stick a needle in someone without them noticing, especially if you have to keep the needle in there for long enough, maybe 20 seconds, to inject enough drugs to cause this.’
Could someone not give the injection really fast?
Yes – but they’d need a very powerful drug to do so discreetly, experts say.
GHB is one of the most well-known ‘date rape’ drug and is also self-administered in small doses by people recreationally.
But Guy Jones, senior scientist at drugs charity the Loop, told VICE it would be a ‘poor candidate’ for injection because of the large amounts of fluid needed.
‘Therefore (it would require) a thick, painful needle. This means that the substance involved would be something that would be highly detectable for several days in a toxicology screening,’ he said.
Adam Winstock, director of the Global Drug Survey, added: ‘There are very few easily accessible drugs / medicines that could be given intramuscular in a small enough volume that people would not notice and the effects would take some time to come on.
‘What you see in the movies is not reality. People need to keep their drinks close to them, avoid taking them from strangers and keep an eye out for their mates.’
Can drugs be administered to any part of the body?
Yes – but some parts are more effective than others
Mr Jones told VICE: ‘Where drugs can be injected non-intravenously, there are specific injection sites that do not work well.
‘The back is one of these unsuitable sites due to the low fat-muscle content, and high concentration of pain receptors.’
What about drink spiking?
While injection spiking is still possible, drink spiking is a lot more common.
Incidents of drink spiking in the UK increased by 108 per cent between 2015 and 2018, with 179 incidents taking place in 2017 alone.
This is only the officially recorded numbers – and is likely to be much higher as it is common for people not to report it to police.
Charity Drinkaware advise: ‘Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know and if they’re available, use drink stoppers, which can be purchased online, for the top of your bottle.’
Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most commonly known ‘date-rape’ drugs.
Recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine and other ‘party-drugs’ are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks.