Vapes are being used as newest weapons for spiking people
Spiking vape pens with spice or THC is a ‘new phenomenon’ which has been reported across the country in recent months.
New information compiled by the National Police Chiefs Council indicates there were more than 6,700 spiking offences in England and Wales in the year to May 2023, The Independent reported. That’s an average of 561 every month.
The police body further stated the data – which comes ahead of freshers’ week at UK universities, known to be a high-risk period for such crimes – includes the use of modified vapes as well as syringes and drugged foods.
Helena Conibear, chief executive of the Alcohol Education Trust, said: ‘We have heard of people unknowingly using vapes which contain THC or spice in them.
‘Very little is known about vape spiking as it is a new phenomenon. We are very much in the dark about how it operates.’
The new data also follows after a woman warned she had been the target of suspected vape spiking at the start of this year’s festival season.
Chloe Hammerton, from Southampton, was attending the Isle of Wight Festival with her partner, brother and his girlfriend on June 17.
After taking a puff from a vape offered by a stranger, she swiftly became unwell.
The 26-year-old explained: ‘It was like the entire world went into slow motion, pins and needles throughout my body and then I collapsed onto the floor – within a minute I was unconscious.’
Ms Hammerton was subsequently taken to Southampton General Hospital where she continued vomiting for a further 16 hours.
A 51-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of administering a poisonous substance with intent.
Although the incident involving Ms Hammerton garnered significant media attention, the first reported cases of vape spiking are in fact thought to date back as far as 2019.
Experts such as Dawn Dines, of campaign group Stamp Out Spiking, believe such incidents to be a ‘hugely unreported crime’.
Earlier in January, the UK government said it would not consider introducing a specific offence for spiking, arguing there were no gaps in existing laws.
But supporters of new legislation specifically targeting spiking believe it would significantly increase the likelihood of cases being reported by victims who might otherwise fear not being taken seriously, as well as improving police data on the scale and nature of the problem.
Data from the previous year showed almost 5,000 reported needle and drink spikings were reported, but vape were not included in that data.
The statistics above also included 957 needle spiking offences, which caused widespread panic in 2021 as the country opened up again after successive lockdowns.
Several victims of spiking spoke about their traumatic experiences last year, calling for further action.
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