Another day, another interpretation on the extent of date rape in the UK.

This time it is the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs which claims that sexual assaults assisted by drugs are more prevalent than official figures suggest.

It also stated serious concerns that two substances linked with sexual assaults were legal and it wants hospitals and police to do more to detect the drugs.

Yet research conducted at a North Wales hospital, revealed in February, led to claims that the number of incidents is over-stated. Focusing on cases where drinks were allegedly spiked, the research concluded that in most of them the cause was more likely binge drinking.

So where does that leave us? Or, rather, where does it leave those most at risk of falling victim to drug-assisted assault?

The simple, unsatisafctory answer is that we’re all none the wiser.

In fact, the current situation raises far more questions than clear answers. 

For example, are those at the advisory council guilty of scaremongering on the basis of flimsy evidence, or are those conducting and accepting the conflicting research guilty of a dangerous level of complacency that is putting tens of thousands at risk of serious assault or worse? 

Whether it is those enjoying a night out keeping a closer eye on what they’re drinking or being offered, the police in taking such allegations seriously, hospitals in flagging up suspected incidents or the government in ensuring such offences are accurately recorded in the British Crime Survey, the confusion needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Under the circumstances, it would seem sensible for caution and common sense to replace the confusion and complacency.

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