Spiked Drinks At Student Event Raises Alarms

Spiked Drinks At Student Event Raises Alarms

In May of this year there was a student event hosted at a Central Dunedin venue. During this event, the water dispenser was allegedly spiked, and multiple attendees ended up in the Emergency Department.

Jenny* was one of the students whose drink was spiked. She said that she was lucky her friends were close by and looked after her when she was vomiting, but that it was “horrible”. “I stopped being able to open my eyes and couldn’t lift my limbs.”

Her friends took her to the Emergency Department, but they told Critic that the nurses believed Jenny* was a “stupid drunk girl” and did not do any tests on her. This meant that once she recovered, she had a “limited ability to report it to the police or confirm what happened”.

An Official Information Act Request revealed that there is no specific ‘code’ for drink spiking, and there have been zero police reports of drink spiking in North Dunedin over the last five years. A police spokesperson added that “[spiking] is sometimes associated with other offending such as assaults and if reported the circumstances would be included in the evidence or summary of facts relating to a particular incident”.

Without evidence of spiking, such as medical records, it is hard to prove. Particularly as the police cited this type of offending as being under Section 202A of the Crimes Act 1961, which means that anyone convicted needs to be found in possession of a “disabling substance”, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, and do so in circumstances that seem to show intention to commit an offence. Naturally, it can be incredibly difficult to figure out who in a crowd put a substance in a drink.

Jenny* said that no one should drink anything that has been left unattended, even if it’s just free water. Campus Watch, who are also “aware of some recent concerns about drinks-spiking,” added not to accept drinks that you have not personally seen poured.

Months later, Jenny* still can’t explain why she didn’t lodge a proper report at the time. She said it is partly because she had no evidence, had been busy, didn’t think it would result in finding who had done it, and also did not think that what happened to her was “that bad”.

“I wasn’t assaulted,” she said. But added “ED should have taken my bloods and actually listened to/believed my friends that it was something beyond alcohol (I’d had two drinks). That there was foul play involved.”

Jenny* complained to the Southern District Health Board and got an apology. She said that tests should definitely be done more frequently, “because otherwise you can’t alert the authorities that this is going on which could lead to them stepping up to stop it”.

This article first appeared in Issue 21, 2019.
Posted 11:41pm Thursday 29th August 2019 by Sinead Gill.