The NSW State Government just this week issued a release warning party goers of increased drink spiking incidents despite allegedly having industry advice that an introduction of plastic glasses would increase the number of spiking incidents, particularly against young women.

“The run-up to Christmas is peak party season, and it is very easy for a pill or powder to be slipped into your drink,” the Minister of Police Tony Kelly said in the release. “The results can be horrendous, with victims vulnerable to date rape, violence or theft without having any ability to defend themselves.”

But Crikey understands that the alcohol industry warned the government during recent consultations that banning RTD (alcopop) bottles after midnight would increase the risk of spiking further. The industry advised them that open plastic cups with wide tops would be easier to spike than narrow topped bottles.

The joint Department of Health and Department of Police release referred to data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research which revealed a “150 per cent rise in spiking incidents between January and June this year”.

“The State Government has gone against advice and implemented the plastic glass policy, fully aware that spiking is already on the increase,” an alcohol industry source has told Crikey.

In a release sent by the Premier’s Department on 30 October, regulations only required venues to use plastic or polycarbonate glasses for “beer service after midnight”. But between the distribution of the release and the implementation of the new licensing regulation all glass containers were to be banned and bar staff would be required to pour all drinks including wine, champagne and alcopops into open plastic cups.

The end of the release issued this week warning of drink spiking provides advice to party goers;

When preparing a night out, to protect yourself it is important to:

• Plan your night and tell people where you are going.

• Never accept a drink from a stranger or leave drinks unattended.

• Tell bar staff if you see someone spiking drinks.

Yesterday, Crikey also reported on the growing problem of violence caused by party drugs GHB and ICE within pubs and clubs in Sydney.

Crikey has since found out that police have no power to test whether a violent “drinker” is actually on drugs such as GHB or ICE. If a suspected person denies they have taken drugs only the venue receives a mark against their record and it is treated as an alcohol related incident.

Crikey tried to contact both the Minister of Police and the Minister of Health who issued the release, but were referred to the Minister for Gaming and Racing, Kevin Greene who overseas the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing with advisors telling us that ‘they are fielding all of the enquiries’.

The Minister’s office didn’t get back to Crikey in time for our deadline, but questions must be asked of the State Government about why they allegedly ignored specific advice and are now potentially placing many young women at risk from further increases in spiking.

Peter Fray

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