Police in The Hague have arrested a man for allegedly stabbing a female festival goer with a hypodermic needle on Saturday, in what is thought to be the country’s first arrest for needle spiking.
The 31-year-old man was detained at the scene by security staff at The Hague Outdoor festival in the Zuiderpark. Security guard Rendel van den Heuvel said he was carrying a syringe when he was detained.
‘Everyone pointed to the same person,’ Van den Heuvel was quoted as saying by the AD. ‘We started a manhunt, we had him in no time.’
Dutch police said it was too early to conclude if the 31-year-old suspect had used the syringe to stab a woman. ‘He could be a drug addict at a festival,’ says spokeswoman Helma Huyzing. ‘Some say he did it, but we don’t know. He was arrested for having hypodermics. Why would you bring needles to a festival?’
Details of what was in the syringe are also being withheld. Police are asking any witnesses or other possible victims to come forward.
Reports of needle spiking have been on the rise in places such as Amsterdam, Alkmaar and Groningen, and further afield in London, France and Belgium. But with little evidence and no corresponding police reports of sexual assault or robbery from alleged victims, the authorities say it’s very hard to prove.
‘We take every report seriously, but we haven’t found one single piece of evidence of needle spiking,’ says Rob van der Veen, spokesman for the Amsterdam police. He says police have received five reports of needle-spiking since November in the city. ‘But no one has seen anything. Not one person. If there’s no proof, we can’t say it happened.’
Countrywide, there have been between 20 to 40 cases of reported needle spiking, but none have been proven.
Van den Heuvel is pleased this may finally change. ‘We hear about incidents like this a lot more often, but nine times out of 10 we find no evidence.’
The authorities are advising people who think they have been pricked to immediately seek medical attention, not least because doctors can test for traces of drugs before they disappear from the body.
The justice ministry, which will send a letter to parliament in the coming weeks about how to deal with needle spiking, is also advising people who think they have been attacked to report the incident to police.
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