Leeds police admit some spiking reports previously dismissed as 'simple drunkenness'
Police in Leeds have admitted that some reports of spiking have previously not always been taken seriously but are now encouraging all potential victims to come forward.
A safe nightlife summit on Thursday was told that police accept that some reports of spiking have previously been dismissed as "simple drunkenness."
But the summit, which was streamed live on YouTube, was told police in Leeds now do take all reports of spiking seriously.
The meeting was told the West Yorkshire force has made a number of arrests in connection with spiking offences and prosecutions are ongoing.
Police in Leeds have launched a special operation to deal with reports of spiking in the city and said officers will attend all reports of spiking.
Inspector Jonathan McNiff, who runs West Yorkshire Police's Leeds city centre neighbourhood policing team, said: "Part of our visibility plan that we developed both with local authority, with licensing and with the venues themselves is that visibility plan of uniformed officers going to venues, engaging with door staff, giving reassurance to people visiting venues as customers that it's a safe place to go.
"That yes, when they do report crimes, if they do feel they have been spiked, it's being taken seriously, it's not being dismissed as simple drunkenness or something of that nature, which unfortunately we do accept has happened before.
"One of the key messages to door staff, clearly it's searching of people where they may be bringing in needles or other items to try and spike people, is something that we are reiterating with the door staff.
"They are being really responsive to it. They are really alive to it now, they are intervening.
"They are understanding and recognising where people may be being led out don't look comfortable, and not with somebody they might expect them to be with and intervening to make sure police are aware and can attend quickly."
Detective Superintendent of Leeds Jaz Khan said officers will attend when an initial call is made of a spiking report and said Leeds CID are currently dealing with all spiking offences.
Det Supt Khan said police are responsible for urine testing of potential spiking victims and said the force has bought around 300 testing kits
"We are able to test urine and I would encourage people to come forward, report to door staff, police will attend," he said.
"The senior leadership team at Leeds are aware of an increase in reporting and we have got a good grip on actually recording everything."
Det Supt Khan said the force has looked at the possibility of using police drugs dogs to search people going into venues.
He said police are liaising with venues and student unions on the problem of spiking.
Det Supt Khan said there are options for police to take samples of blood and hair from victims for evidence, adding: "Forensics remains in the hair much longer."
Police across the country - including Leeds - have received reports of people being spiked with needles in clubs and bars.
Last week this led to a nationwide boycott of nightclubs and bars called “girls’ night in.”
Representatives of a range of stakeholders, including campaigners, students, universities, Leeds City Council, MPs, the police, and Leeds-based bars and clubs, attended the summit, which was chaired by West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Alison Lowe.
A woman told the meeting she was spiked three months ago.
She said: "We really need to look at the actual root of the problem, which is that men are carrying out these attacks.
"I really do feel like we need to take things back to a deeper level of preventative measure, which would be about education around consent and it would be about further exploration into mental health.
"We need to understand a lot better why people are doing these attacks in the first place."
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