Drink and Food Spiking at an All Time High in NSW

In NSW, drink and food spiking reached record highs last year. “Spiking” is the term given to the action of placing drugs in another person’s drink or their food without their knowledge or consent. Under section 38A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), the spiking of another person’s food is illegal and can result in a maximum term of imprisonment of 2 years, 100 penalty units, or both.

NSW Police received record breaking reports just in the last year of food and drink spiking incidents. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reported that between July of 2022 and June of 2023, there were a total of 220 reports of food and drink spiking. It is reported that this is the highest number of spiking reports since the number of incidents regarding the same which last occurred back in 2008. The spiking of food and drink has almost doubled since June 2019 where 115 reports were made – that is a 20% increase since 2019.

The predominant areas where spiking has been reported to occur in the last year include the Sydney CBD, Central Coast, Newcastle and Wollongong. Almost half of the total reports occurred in these areas. 71% of the incidents occurred in either clubs or pubs. Yet, despite the prevalence of these incidents, a very small proportion of the reports resulted in legal actions being sought. Out of the 183 reports lodged back in 2021/2022, only 2 (1.1%) led to a criminal proceeding.

NSW Police opinions that the rise in spiking incidents is due to individuals’ willingness to report the incidents rather than an actual increase in spiking behaviour. They note that recent campaigns that target spiking have educated and supported victims by encouraging them to come forward and have ensured that other members of the public are always on the lookout for their drinks and food. NSW has ensured that all spiking reports are thoroughly investigated.

A significant gap in the regulation and law in the area can be seen in the processes that licensed venues are required to take when these incidents occur on their premises. While they are required to log incidents of drink spiking, they are not required to inform the police of these events. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has commented that although new data confirms spiking incidents to be higher than previous years, it may still be underreported as victims may feel that they will be blamed or not believed, meaning that real data of food and drink spiking incidents may be much higher than understood at this time.

If you or someone you know wish to discuss this issue further, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8999 9809.

Freedman & Gopalan Solicitors
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