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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 December, 2003, 14:17 GMT
Date rape awareness drive
Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry
Hugh Henry: "Cynical crime"
Women are being warned not to leave their drinks unattended during the festive period amid increasing fears over date rape drugs.

The Scottish Executive and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) have launched a campaign to highlight the problem.

Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry said raising awareness was vital to ensure everyone enjoyed a safe Christmas.

Police in Strathclyde and Ayr have warned of an increasing availability of date rape drugs and urged party-goers to remain vigilant.

Mr Henry said: "The festive season should be a time for enjoyment.

'Raising awareness'

"But sadly a sick minority of people see other people's celebrations as an opportunity for crime - and there are few more cynical crimes than spiking someone's drink to make a sexual assault easier.

"I know our police forces take reported incidences of drug related sexual assault very seriously.

"But that is after the event. Dealing with this problem means raising awareness and stopping incidents happening in the first place."

'Spiked' drinks

The executive believes pub and nightclub staff can play important roles in looking out for signs of drinks being spiked.

Statistics show that 54% of all date rapes begin on licensed premises.

Paul Waterson, of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, which represents thousands of bar and club owners, has said his members are taking the threat seriously.

A Scottish club chain has launched a campaign to drive the message home.

Castle Leisure security manager John Gallagher said it has produced drink stirrers with, "B Aware!" on one side and the campaign logo - an eye - on the other.

Date rape Christmas warning
11 Dec 03  |  Scotland
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26 Nov 03  |  Tyne/Wear
Date rape drug hotspot warning
13 Nov 03  |  South West Wales
Concern over spiked drinks
12 Nov 03  |  Cumbria

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