BBC NEWS | United Kingdom | England | Essex
Police believe rape incidents are underreported
Police posing as nightclub glass collectors discovered that eight drinks had been fortified with “date-rape” drugs.
Officers in Essex tested 200 empty glasses, taken mostly from women, at a Chelmsford nightclub for traces of drugs believed to have been used in the rapes.
Analysts set up screening devices in a club room to examine drinks.
And one of the officers who took part in the operation said he was “astonished” by the results.
Sergeant Nigel Dermot, who led the investigation, entered the club as an undercover nightclub worker with a second officer and two scientists.
The tests showed the presence of “date-rape” drugs in the glasses, but further testing was needed to identify the exact illicit substances present.
Raise the profile
Mr Dermot told BBC News Online he was “astonished” by the results.
He said: “They are extraordinary … but it is far too early to draw any conclusions.
“There is no supporting evidence to suggest the community should be concerned. It was a very simplistic trial.”
He added that no one whose glass had been tested had experienced any adverse effects from the drug.
Safe consumption practice:
Don’t leave a drink unattended
If you drink from a bottle, keep your thumb on top
Take your drink with you to the bathroom
Don’t accept drinks from strangers
Dermot said one of the reasons for the study was to raise the profile of fortified drinks over the Christmas period.
Essex Police said neither the town nor the study nightclub had a particular problem with these drugs.
They believe the results could be typical of clubs across the country.
There are no government figures on the number of drug-related rapes, but the Metropolitan Police receive around 100 allegations each year.
Abusers use the drug – which can be slipped into a drink – to confuse the victim.
Senior officers believe the problem is underestimated.
“Rape” drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB – a liquid ecstasy – can cause victims to lose their memory. Traces of medication disappear very quickly and may not show up on tests.
It can also be difficult to prove that an accused abuser tricked the victim into using drugs.
However, the drugs are also used recreationally in nightclubs to increase the potency of drinks.