West Yorkshire deputy mayor believes Home Affairs Committee report on spiking does not go far enough

Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Alison Lowe does not believe the recent Home Affairs Committee report on spiking 'goes far enough' with its suggestions for tackling the issue.

By Tom Coates
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 4:45 am
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 11:46 am

It contains suggestions such as improving awareness of spiking with a national communications campaign and has been welcomed by Ms Lowe, although the former councillor has weighed in with ideas of her own.

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She said: "I welcome the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report highlighting these issues, however, I don’t feel it goes far enough. For instance, around licensing, the report suggests revoking licenses after a spiking offence is committed.

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Alison Lowe welcomed the Home Affairs Committee's report but believes it does not go far enough. Credit: Bruce Rollinson

"In my view, the very issuing of licenses should be subject to delivery of effective safeguarding training for all staff, such as the 'Ask for Angela initiative' and Licensing SAVI [Security and Vulnerability Initiative].

"Additionally, extending police responsibility to undertake rapid forensic testing must be accompanied with the right level of funding to allow all officers to be trained, and also ensure the testing meets evidential standards. The pilot referred to in the report should be extended and funded nationally.

"Overall, there needs to be more emphasis and funding to tackle these issues from the Government, in partnership with local leaders.

"Most importantly though, I would urge anyone who has encountered spiking to please report it to the police. You will be believed and treated sensitively, and we will be monitoring this issue closely."

The report claims not enough is being done to support victims of spiking and also advocates for the creation of a new spiking criminal offence.

Several initiatives designed to improve safety and combat spiking have been implemented across Leeds, such as the 'Ask for Angela' campaign. This involves the offering of a codeword to allow those in danger or in an uncomfortable situation to be helped by bar staff in establishments such as bars and restaurants.

Ms Lowe said: “Myself and the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, are taking issues of spiking extremely seriously with the safety of women and girls a key Mayoral Pledge.

“Here in West Yorkshire, we recently launched Licensing SAVI, a pioneering partnership initiative, funded by our West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), to help improve safety and security in bars, clubs and restaurants. The scheme encourages venues to improve their operational security and management practices year on year and 300 venues across our region have been invited to take part.

“This work, combines with initiatives such as ‘Ask for Angela’ which allows people who feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened to discreetly seek help by approaching venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela’, a male behaviour change campaign focusing on the night-time economy and active bystander training, which essentially means that you are able to identify when someone’s behaviour is inappropriate or threatening and to challenge it in the appropriate way."

West Yorkshire Police have also been actively involved in work to tackle spiking and earlier this year, used Section 60 stop and search powers to check nightclub-goers for needles after an alleged spiking incident.

Ms Lowe explained: “West Yorkshire Police are also working more closely with the night time economy in ever more innovative ways. Earlier this year, police used Section 60 stop and search powers, normally only used to locate weapons on the street, to check everyone leaving a nightclub after spiking with a needle was alleged to have taken place there."