By Kate Cox, 9 March 2003
Handbag test for date-rape drugs
There is a new weapon in the fight against drug rape.
Along with their lipstick, mobile phones and money,
Sydney women can now pack business card-sized spiked-drink
detector kits in their handbags.
Coasters that test for drugs in drinks are also available
and cocktail swizzle sticks and other possible testers
are being developed.
Paul Dillon, information manager at the National Drug
and Alcohol Research Centre, said that increased drink
spiking - and drug rape - in Sydney's pubs and clubs
had led to several consumer products being developed
"Anything that assists in preventing a crime is
totally worthwhile, although we have to be very careful
that we don't lull people into a false sense of security,"
"This is something that contributes to reduction
of harm and it also makes people think more about their
alcohol consumption, which is especially important for
Mr Dillon said that Drink Safe Technologies had spent
a year researching and testing the effectiveness of
the product with police and forensic scientists.
But most young people in CBD bars said they would be
unlikely to use the new spiked-drink detectors, which
cost $9.95 for six tests from website www.drinksafetech.com.au.
The tests can identify two of the most popular date-rape
drugs: gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and ketamine - although
some drinks, such as fruit juices and milks, are unable
to be tested.
Users rub a drop of liquid on the cardboard: if the
spot turns from tan to blue-green, the drink is spiked.
Melanie Cleverdon, 29, believes her drink was spiked
on New Year's Eve two years ago, but even that wouldn't
encourage her to use the testers.
Beth Basman of Leichhardt said she would be more likely
to rely on her friends.
A plastic cap that fits over bottled beers and drinks
so they can't be tampered with is also being considered
and pubs and clubs are being urged to post signs on
the back of toilet doors and warning stickers on drinks
Police and scientists are continuing development of
a cocktail swizzle stick that can be left in drinks
the whole time, changing colour the moment drinks have
been tampered with.