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Drink spiking bigger problem in 2021 than previous years: RCMP

“We had a couple more allegations recently, it’s continuing, but we have not been able to prove any conclusively," said Staff Sergeant Mike Buxton-Carr
Banff RCMP
Banff RCMP Station. RMO FILE PHOTO

BANFF – Drink spiking has continued to be an issue in Banff.

Banff RCMP say reports of drink spiking at local bars started in August, which quickly prompted a public advisory, and continued throughout the year.

Staff Sgt. Mike Buxton-Carr, the Banff detachment commander, said reports have subsided since September as visitation declined, but he emphasized it is highly likely a considerable number of drink spiking offences go unreported for various reasons.

“It’s an issue that we’ve seen in previous years in Banff, but not to the extent we have in 2021," he said during a recent Town of Banff service review meeting of police services.

“We had a couple more allegations recently, it’s continuing, but we have not been able to prove any conclusively.”

Police are looking at various ways to educate the community, including advising women to be careful and to not consume any drink left unattended. Symptoms of drink spiking may include confusion, nausea, dizziness, loss of memory, or loss of consciousness.

If someone thinks they have been drugged, police encourage them to tell someone trusted, and if alone, to seek venue staff or the police. If a friend shows any of these signs, stay with them, notify staff, and seek medical aid.

“Of course, the focus will be trying to identify the offenders, but for a multitude of reasons, that’s incredibly difficult to do so,” said Staff Sgt Buxton-Carr.

Local police also continue to work with the various bars in town.

“The licensed establishment community has been quite supportive and concerned,” said Staff Sgt Buxton-Carr.

“Whether it’s keeping the issue on the hot topic or seeing what they can do to help mitigate it, they’re working on it.”

Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno thanked the Banff RCMP for its continuing work on this alarming issue.

“Certainly the Town of Banff is here to be a collaborative partner with others in the community to help try and get this more under control,” she said.

A 2020 study by the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) estimated that 1.48 million Albertans over the age of 18 – or 45 per cent – have experienced some type of sexual abuse in their lifetime. That equated to two in three females and one in three males.

The Banff YWCA’s Harmony Project brings together Bow Valley-based service providers to work towards ending sexualized violence in the community. Through a community-minded approach, the focus is to improve sexual assault community response and services.

The Harmony Project also offers training and supports to help businesses promote a culture of consent, reduce instances of workplace harassment, and to respond appropriately if a complaint is made.

The YWCA wants people of any gender – whether they’ve experienced sexual violence recently or in the past – to know of the services available. Those services include supportive counselling – not therapeutic counselling – and getting people connected to resources they might need.

The services, which are free, also extend to people who are supporting someone who has been through a sexual violence trauma. The Banff YWCA’s crisis phone line is 403-760-3200. For information about training and inquiries of a non-urgent nature, the number to call is 403-762-3520.

To find out more about the Harmony Project and sexual violence prevention and response, visit the website at https://ywcabanff.ca/programs-services/harmony-project.

If anyone has information about any incident where drink spiking is suspected, please contact the Banff RCMP at 403-763-6600.