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Drink/Needle Spiking

Date of request: 17 February 2022
Reference: 225-22


How many incidents of spiking were recorded by your force in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and how many of these reports resulted in an arrest.


I am writing to confirm that Avon and Somerset Police holds the information on the subject you have requested, however, I have to advise you that on this occasion we will not be able to answer your request without exceeding the appropriate cost limit. This is because the information requested, though held, is not centrally recorded and would involve an extensive search of our files to find and collate it.


Due to the way the information is recorded, identifying the information is complex. Below I have described in full the considerations we have taken.


There is no specific data entry field for allegations of spiking via drinks or needles.  Such occurrences would fall under broader categories of offence, including the following:


  • Sexual Offences,
  • Administering poison so as to endanger life,
  • Administering poison with intent to injure or annoy.


They might be recorded under various categories within the offence group of sexual assault if the spiking via drinks or needles was carried out to facilitate a more serious offence.  However, all of these categories would also encompass a range of offences that do not involve spiking via drinks or needles.  This means that to provide an accurate response – identifying all and only those relevant to your request – a manual review of all records falling into any potentially relevant category would be required.  As an illustration, just for the year 2020, we have identified more than 3,000 occurrences categorised as above.  As such it is estimated it would take considerably longer than 18 hours to comply.


Section 12 of the Act makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate cost limit, which for police authorities is set at £450 or 18 staff hours. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 2.5 working days in determining whether the department holds the information, locating, retrieving and extracting it.


This serves as a refusal notice under section 17(1) of the FOI Act.


Unfortunately, I am unable to suggest a way in which you could refine your request that would enable us to provide an accurate response specifically relating to allegations of spiking.

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