Victim-blaming culture leads to missed opportunities to tackle surge, MPs say – Reuters

A ‘victim-blaming culture’ could lead to ‘missed opportunities’ to collect vital doping evidence, according to an inquiry by MPs.

According to their report, there are “few deterrents” for criminals, with barriers preventing victims from filing complaints and low prosecution rates.

Last year, the House Home Affairs Committee launched an investigation into increases in alcohol and injection drug use following a wave of reports of needle sticks and nightclub boycotts calling for tougher measures to eradicate crime. .

The final report highlights the experiences of the victims, including how they were treated by authorities, and makes recommendations on how to better address the crime.

MPs concluded that “improvements in the reporting, investigation and prosecution of doping incidents” were “urgently needed” to support victims and deter offenders from committing the offense in the first place.

They found that barriers to reporting included the belief that the police would do nothing and not knowing where to turn.

Experts had told the investigation that peak incidents were “significantly underreported”.

One of the committee’s recommendations was a national communication campaign to address this problem, telling people who think they have been drugged what to do, where to go, and assuring them that they will be believed.

But the report suggested that the last point was something that could be improved. “Even when victims report the crime, a victim-blaming culture can compound trauma and mean missed opportunities to gather evidence,” she said.

Spike’s victims have already said so. the independent bouncers and hospital staff had treated them as if they were too drunk, while charities and campaigners said the incidents were often “dismissed” by police and the NHS.

The Home Affairs Committee said there was an “urgent need to improve spike education and awareness in various sectors”.

The survey also looked at the rates of doping prosecutions. Earlier this month, figures obtained by the independent revealed that less than 2% of doping offenses resulted in a charge over a period of nearly five years.

“The level of prosecution for doping offenses is very low, with a key factor being the lack of evidence in many incidents, as a result of delays in reporting, insufficient forensic evidence and difficulties in identifying and apprehending perpetrators,” the report says. .

MEPs also stressed that there was no specific offense to prosecute doping. “This, combined with limited reporting, investigations and prosecutions, means there are few deterrents for criminals,” they said.

Dame Diana Johnson, chair of the Home Affairs Committee, said: ‘It’s not enough to tell people to put lids on their drinks or to make it normal to carry a test kit with you. Everyone should have the right to go out and have fun without fear.

She said: “The message must be sent to perpetrators that doping is absolutely unacceptable and will be punished.”

While MPs welcomed the government’s consideration of making doping a specific criminal offence, they said a “most urgent need” was data on perpetrators and their motivations, which could help rein in anti-crime strategies.

Rachel Maclean, the protection minister, said the government would consider all of the report’s recommendations.

“As part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the government has also committed to a wide-ranging review of spikes and is considering whether further legislation is needed to help police and courts better deal with the problem. “, said. mentioned.

“It’s already started, earlier this month we reclassified GHB, a drug used to increase drinking, and introduced tougher penalties for those found in possession, as well as those involved in supply and demand.”

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