The dangers of drink spiking are being taken into homes and movie theatres around New Zealand this week with the launch today of a month-long police advertising campaign.
The advertisements are part of a national awareness campaign about drink spiking that was launched late last year in response to a growing number of drink spiking incidents reported to police.
The advertisements are aimed principally at young women and are set in bars. They are graphic reminders of how easy it is to spike someoneâ€™s drink and how quickly it can be done -- literally in a few seconds.
The ads also encourage victims to report incidents within 12 hours -- a crucial factor if tests need to be conducted.
The advertising campaign has been launched in Hamilton due to Hamilton East Labour MP Dianne Yatesâ€™ interest in the subject. She has been closely monitoring the offences reported to Waikato police and has spoken out publicly about the problem in the region.
Hamilton police last year received 22 allegations of suspected drink spiking. Four of those involved allegations of sexual violation. Hamilton City area controller Inspector Paul Carpenter says the problem is not confined to Hamilton and police all over New Zealand are dealing with complaints from women who say they have been raped or sexually assaulted as a result of their drinks being spiked.
"It is a problem in the community and we are trying to encourage people to keep themselves safe. That includes things like always buying your own drink, never taking a drink off a stranger, watching your drink at all times and never leaving it unattended.
"Itâ€™s also important that groups of friends keep an eye on each other during the night when they are out and watch for any sort of changes in peopleâ€™s behaviour that seem out of place or uncharacteristic."
Police are hoping to reinforce the safety message throughout the community, particularly targetting young women. The first stage of the awareness campaign late last year included distribution of posters and leaflets to bars, universities and polytechs. Print ads will run in university magazines and gay and youth publications this month.
The television advertisements will run for three weeks from June 9. The cinema advertisements will run for four weeks from 5 June.
Mr Carpenter said it was imperative that people contacted police immediately if they suspected their drink had been spiked. Toxicology tests were usually conducted when complaints were made, so it was important that police were told as soon as possible.
Copies of the TV ads are also be available on this website.