A RECENT trend in spiking incidents has been roundly condemned by Welsh politicians, who say such crimes are part of a wider issue of sexual assault "that is rooted in sexism and misogyny".

Police forces across the UK recorded nearly 200 drink-spiking incidents in September and October, as well as 24 reports of victims being targeted with some form of injection. The majority of all cases involved young women.

Today, the Senedd agreed it was the "fundamental right of women to feel safe and to live freely" and the onus for change "falls not on the victims of such crimes but on the perpetrators".

But a Welsh Conservative motion calling for practical measures – such as free bottle stoppers in all nightclubs, improved searches and mandatory training for club staff – was voted down in favour of a government amendment that focused on holding perpetrators to account.

In a lengthy debate, members from all parties said they were distressed and horrified by an apparent recent rise in reports of spikings.

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Joyce Watson, the Labour MS for Mid and West Wales, revealed that she had been spiked at a pub in the 1980s.

"I know what it's like," she told the Senedd. "I can retell that story today and I can remember the effects of it, but I know I was lucky, and I know other people are not lucky. But, this isn't about me. So, what I ask of all police forces across Wales is to take this seriously."

The National Wales: Senedd member Joyce Watson. Picture: Senedd.tvSenedd member Joyce Watson. Picture: Senedd.tv

Watson said perpetrators of spikings, not the victims, should be held accountable for the crimes.

"I agree that looking after your drinks, getting your friends to look after your drinks is important, but I also agree that putting the onus on the individual and blaming them is wrong," she said.

"It is the perpetrator who is to blame, it isn't the victim. We've heard victim blaming for women's behaviour time and time again, and it's been alluded to here.

"We've heard people say, after women have been raped or sexually assaulted, that they've asked for it, after all, their dress was too short, their top was too skimpy.

"That lets the perpetrator off the hook. In this case, there is only one person who is clearly to blame."

The Senedd debate comes after a national campaign, Girls Night In, called on women in university cities to boycott nightclubs on October 27 to raise awareness of the issue.

And in Wrexham and Flintshire, the North Wales police and crime commissioner (PCC) announced today that undercover officers would keep watch over night-time revellers in the run up to Christmas to keep women safe.

The initiative is the first of its kind in Wales, and officers will identify vulnerable women and girls and any potential offenders, so they can take preventative action.

If they have had too much to drink, the officers will ensure that women and girls are accompanied by somebody responsible so that they get home safely.

Potential offenders will be stopped and searched for any substances that could be used to spike drinks and incapacitate victims.