'Don't forget us': Spiking victim's plea following alleged city attack

Police were called to the Bell Hotel on Thursday after Olivia Taylor, pictured inset, was the victim of an alleged spiking 

Police were called to a Norwich venue on Thursday after Olivia Taylor, pictured inset, was the victim of an alleged spiking - Credit: Ben Hardy/Olivia Taylor

Terrified victims of alleged drink spikers are warning the crime cannot be swept under the rug ahead of the busy summer season.

Campaigners told a parliamentary inquiry in January that the sinister crime had reached "epidemic levels" in the UK as MPs were urged to make spiking a specific criminal offence. 

A person's drink can be laced with drugs to make them vulnerable for a variety of motives - including assault or theft. 

But four months on there are now fears that this push to raise awareness over the Christmas and New Year period has fallen by the wayside.

Olivia Taylor, 29, who lives in Mile Cross, claims she was targeted by an alleged drink spiker at a city pub on Thursday. 

Olivia Taylor who lives in Mile Cross 

Olivia Taylor who lives in Mile Cross - Credit: Contributed

She said: "It feels like the victims have been forgotten about. There's got to be more awareness of this crime.

"There was a big thing about it at Christmas but you do not see many signs warning people anymore.

"There were lots of signs up in December saying 'If you think you have been spiked then do this' but I don't see them so much now.

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"To me it seems like there's a stigma around this being dismissed as the victim's fault. 

"People think they've had too much to drink or have taken drugs themselves." 

Miss Taylor was enjoying a drink in the sunshine with two friends last week before accepting a drink from a stranger which left her feeling sick.

She called the police who promptly arrived and an investigation is now taking place.

The drink in question has been submitted for testing. 

Police cars outside the Bell Hotel around 5.30pm on Thursday 

Police cars outside the Bell Hotel around 5.30pm on Thursday - Credit: Ben Hardy

The model and bar supervisor continued: "People are beginning to let their guard down.

"Many people probably do not know what to look out for. I was not expecting to be spiked in all honesty. It can happen to anyone." 

The spiking victim would like to see MPs take up the issue again in parliament as well as a greater emphasis on offering lids for drinks - particularly for those ordering to their table from apps on their phone. 

Miss Taylor added: "Mentally and emotionally the situation has affected me. I have cancelled plans to go out drinking and it has made me realise it can happen to anyone at anytime." 

A spokeswoman for Norfolk Police said: "Police were called to a business premise in Orford Hill in Norwich at approximately 4pm following reports of an assault and alleged drink-spiking.

"No arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing. The victim suffered no injuries as a result of the incident." 

A spokeswoman for Wetherspoon said: "The police attended the premises and took the drink concerned with them for testing. Wetherspoon are assisting the police with their investigation." 

Wetherspoon added: "Drink lids are available from the bar on request and the company has also been promoting the 'Ask for Angela' campaign."

A spate of spiking incidents between October and November prompted Norwich City Council to introduce measures including tighter admission requirements at venues, improved staff training at clubs, and to a call for an increase in police funding to target the problem.

Laura Rycroft is manager of the Epic Studios in Magdalen Street which joined Prince of Wales bar Cans 'N' Cocktails in introducing foil-lined plastic lids - called StopTopps - as a preventative measure in October 2021. 

Laura Rycroft, general manager of Epic Studios in Norwich 

Laura Rycroft, general manager of Epic Studios in Norwich - Credit: Contributed

Ms Rycroft said: "While the awareness levels may reduce as the emphasis dies off, unfortunately the risk isn’t something that will ever fully go away." 

Anti-spiking measures include working with licensing and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on their anti-spiking pilot scheme offering testing kits for anyone that appears or is concerned that they may have been spiked.

Norwich-based activist Lorna Street, who was spiked at the age of 18, said: "I think a national campaign as well as things like self-testing kits being promoted more and spread across the UK so that victims can feel more confident moving forward with reporting the crime is important.

Lorna Street from Norwich hopes that spiking being a motion at Norwich City Council will help action change

Spiking victim and activist Lorna Street hopes that spiking being a motion at Norwich City Council will help action change - Credit: Oliver Hosier

"A lot of the issues are from not having evidence to coincide with a report so nothing is taken further.

"If people had physical evidence and proof of being spiked the authorities would have to take it seriously and look into it and I think this will be a huge thing for not only victims but also for the police to hold the perpetrators accountable." 

Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie said spiking of drinks still remains an issue but it is not easy to determine how widespread it is.

Norfolk police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie

Norfolk police and crime commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie - Credit: Norfolk Police

“There certainly seems to be a problem with spiking but there is sometimes a difficulty in identifying if what is reported as spiking is actually spiking,” he said.