by Dawn Dines, CEO and Founder of StopTopps

We are SOS UK (Safe Original Style), a community interest company based in Devon. We're on a mission to raise awareness, and educate the public on the increasing problem of drink spiking. We offer solutions and products which will help people to protect themselves and each other from this insidious crime. SOS UK was founded by a team that has many years of professional experience in alcohol awareness workshops and in the welfare of young people. 

As you may be aware, drink spiking is when someone adds drugs or alcohol to someone’s drink without their knowledge or permission.

There are many reasons why people spike drinks. Sometimes, it may be a friend thinking they are doing you a favour by adding extra alcohol to your drink. It may be someone pranking you - not funny if you have to drive later for example. It may be someone who wants to have sex with you - possibly because they hope you are less likely to say no when you’re drunk, or maybe they want you so intoxicated you can’t even say no. It might be that they want to incapacitate you in order to rob you, or it may be one of many other reasons.

There are many drugs that are used to spike drinks, such as Rohypnol, Valium or GHB, but the most commonly used substance is alcohol. 

Because of the wide range of substances used to spike drinks, there is a huge range of symptoms. These include but are not limited to:

  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Breathing problems
  • Feeling drunker than you should be

There are many misconceptions about drink spiking such as;

  • spiking is only done to women (although approximately 70% of victims are female)
  • spiking is only done by men
  • spiking is only done to alcoholic drinks
  • spiking only happens at night in bars and clubs 

These are all wrong, drink spiking could happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time and to any drink.  

SOS UK has designed and produced our own anti-drink spiking product - StopTopps - that we sell to bars, clubs, and individuals across the UK. StopTopps are versatile drink protectors that are used to seal over the top of your glass, can or bottle, with a slit in the middle to allow a straw. They have been designed to crumple and tear making it obvious if your drink has been tampered with. StopTopps are cheap and recyclable and can be easily distributed in large quantities to help protect crowds at bars, festivals and other gatherings.

We have just begun an ambassador’s programme where we recruit people from across the UK to help us with our mission. Becoming an ambassador involves sharing our social media posts, informing local venues about StopTopps, spreading awareness to friends and family, and raising funding to put StopTopps into the hands of vulnerable drinkers.   

One of the biggest issues we face in tackling this crime is the lack of accurate data. Even though drink spiking is a crime, with a potential 10-year prison sentence, there is no specific offence code for drink spiking in British law. This means that drink spiking incidents are not easily recorded as such the police find it extremely difficult to know how many incidents have been reported. Another obstacle to gaining accurate data is that most people do not report suspected incidents to the police, for a number of reasons.

From a 3-month national survey, we conducted in 2021 - 97.64% of respondents said that they didn’t report having their drink spiked. 

54% of these did not report it because they thought that there wasn’t enough evidence and 34.68% of respondents didn't report it because when they realized they had been spiked, they thought it was too late to do anything about it. Many people felt ashamed or embarrassed to report it.

The overall consequence of this makes it extremely difficult to demonstrate what a large scale problem drink spiking is, and makes it impossible to prove the true number of people that it affects. This has made it very difficult for us to gain traction and prove what a widespread issue it really is.

We are calling for a change in the law so that drink spiking has its own specific offence code. We would then be able to obtain a more accurate picture of the true extent of drink spiking in the UK. This would mean that it would be easier to identify places where drink spiking frequently happens, so we can focus our efforts in these areas. In addition, when we can prove how big an issue drink spiking really is we should be able to gain more widespread support in our mission to stamp out drink spiking across the UK.

If you would like any further information or safety advice for you or your friends, please check out our website and if you would like to help us on our mission and become an ambassador to help protect your local community please get in touch [email protected]