JUST four per cent of drink spiking reports in Dorset saw a perpetrator brought to justice.

Figures obtained by the Daily Echo under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that just seven of 161 reports made to Dorset Police for drink spiking between 2016 and 2021 saw someone identified and charged or cautioned.

Of these reports, 10 are still under investigation – two of which date back to 2017/18.

Detective Superintendent Joan Carmichael, of Dorset Police, said: “While Dorset Police takes all reports of drink spiking very seriously, the number of incidents reported remain relatively low.

“Unfortunately in a number of cases the allegation of drink spiking cannot actually be proven due to evidential difficulties. The alleged victim is not routinely tested in hospital so it can be difficult to establish whether a drug has been used to spike a drink or whether the symptoms a person displays are a result of voluntary intoxication through alcohol, prescribed medication or illicit substances.

“Some drugs used in drink spiking incidents remain in the blood and urine for a short period of time only and reports to police are often made after the window of opportunity for forensic recovery has passed.

“We will do everything we can to investigate all reports of drink spiking that we receive and will support the victim throughout our enquiries.”

Of the 161 reports of drink spiking, 54 investigations have been logged as complete, though no suspect was identified.

A high portion of victims, 56 (34 per cent), declined or withdrew after a named suspect was identified

Out of the 161 reports, 79 reports identified a suspect but were unable to complete.

Det Supt Carmichael said: “We are committed to working with partners to gain a better understanding of the reasons why a victim might not wish to support a prosecution. Each case will be carefully considered in conjunction with the victim and partner agencies."

Male victims accounted for 42 reports of drink spiking in the county between 2016 and 2021 – four reports did not specify a gender and 115 reports were made by women.

Drinkaware CEO Elaine Hindal said: “Drink spiking is a heinous act and a serious crime. Although most reported victims of drink spiking are women, men are targeted too. If your drink has been spiked it’s unlikely that it will look, smell or taste any different but the consequences can be very serious.

“Drinks can be spiked with more alcohol or with drugs, including date-rape drugs, with most taking effect within 15 to 30 minutes and symptoms usually lasting for several hours.”

Det Supt Carmichael said: “We have been working with CPS Wessex and other local forces to develop a joint action plan in relation to sexual offences with the aim of increasing the number of cases prosecuted, without this leading to a decrease in the number of successful convictions. We are committed to providing the highest levels of service to victims of serious sexual offences.

“Dorset Police works closely with the SARC (Sexual Offence Referral Centre) and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors to support victims and meet their needs.

“For more information visit The Shores website theshores-org,uk or starsdorset.org or call The Shores on 0800 970 9954.