New powers for police officers to hand out warnings to people in possession of drugs have not had a bearing on increased incidences of “spiking” in recent months, according to the Crown Office.
It said new guidance introduced last month “does not apply to possession of controlled drugs with intention to supply them to another”.
Dorothy Bain QC, who was appointed Scotland’s most senior law officer in June, told MSPs last month she had decided to implement an extension of recorded police warning guidelines.
That means people found in possession of Class A drugs for personal use can now be issued with a recorded police warning instead of facing automatic prosecution, following a review of guidance by the Lord Advocate.
The Crown statement released on Tuesday comes amid reports of young women being injected during nights out in cities across the UK – including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.
COPFS posted on Twitter: “The Lord Advocate’s guidance that police officers may choose to issue a warning for simple possession of drugs has no bearing on ‘spiking’.
“The warning scheme does not apply to possession of controlled drugs with intention to supply them to another. Such behaviour constitutes a specific, separate offence under S.5(3) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
“Under the warning scheme police officers always retain the ability to report appropriate cases to the Procurator Fiscal for consideration of prosecution.”
Victims of spiking say they have been pierced with a needle in their leg, hands and back and woke up to no recollection of the night.
They are left with a pinprick mark – surrounded by a giant bruise – with risks of shared or unclean needles being used, posing threats of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
Club bosses in Scotland say they are implementing precautionary measures, including body searches, bag searches and ensuring no drinks are left unattended.
A campaign by the group ‘Girls Night In’ is calling for a boycott of nightclubs and bars in a demand for the ‘epidemic’ of drink spiking to be tackled.
The group has asked women to avoid major city bars on Thursday, October 28, in protest at safety concerns not being taken seriously.
The recorded police warning scheme enables officers to deal with a wide range of low level offences by issuing a warning on the spot or retrospectively, in the form of a notice.
Bain said last month the move does not amount to decriminalisation for the possession of Class A drugs, which include crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone and methamphetamine (crystal meth).
The guidelines previously permitted the police to issue such warnings for possession of Class B and C drugs.
Officers retain the ability to report appropriate cases to the procurator fiscal, while accused persons retain the right to reject the offer of a warning.