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Daily Telegraph
By Nicolette Burke, 3 October 2003

Spiking on the cards: kit cuts drugging cases

A card that can tell if your drink has been spiked has been credited with stopping university students from falling prey to spikers.

In six months since the introduction of the test kit, distributed to University of Wollongong students and in local bars and clubs, no student has reported being drugged. That compares with 18 spikings reported between January and March, with nine confirmed by medical testing. The kit, which costs $1.25 to produce, works by placing a few drops of the drink on a card, which changes colour if the drink has been spiked.

It has been heralded as a break-through in the war against date-rape drugs like rohyponol, ketamine (a horse tranquilliser) and GHB (fantasy). The Department of Gaming and Racing is considering using the kit, as a well as a public education campaign and working with licensees.
“In university areas like Wollongong and the University of New England at Armidale, the community has taken the initiative through posters and coasters and the drink spiking test kit” a spokesman for Gaming and Racing Minister Grant McBride said. University of Wollongong Student Representative Council president Michael Szafraniec said 3000 kits had been distributed in the past six months and handful of drinks had tested positive.

“We’re now working towards an accreditation system with bars, to look at safety and lighting, whether they have courtesy buses, the helpfulness of staff, and whether they carry drink spiking test kits to determine whether the bar is “uni friendly”,” he said.

“The public reaction has been good. We’re just trying to make it safer for people, so the predators will get out.”

Journalism student Siobhan Christian, 27, said there was now a culture of people looking out for their friends.

“I believe there’s been a lot more public awareness. People are now looking after themselves and each other,” she said.

“If you left your drink there for a while, you just go and get another one. A lot of my friends put a coaster or a jacket over their drink if they’re not holding it. You’re more likely to notice someone moving the jacket than just slipping something in”

Geology student Derek Sallans, 20, said men are also at risk, with spiking often taking place randomly. “But guys tend to watch their drinks more closely. We don’t leave our drinks to go up on the dance floor like girls. And it’s now more common that if your mate goes to the toilet, he’ll ask you to watch his drink.”

Arming the spikers’ potential victims

  • The drink spiking test kit is currently available in pubs in Wollongong and from the university
  • Moves are afoot to make it compulsory in all licensed venues
  • The NSW Government is considering making the kit available across the state
  • Measures to educate bar and security staff to recognise the symptoms of drink spiking, and educating drinkers about the risks, will also be implemented by the end of the year.



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