The hon. Lady makes a very good point, although, as we have heard, there are young males who are also victims of spiking. As a father, when my daughter was young and first going out to nightclubs, I advised her to be very cautious. I gave her a list of things she could do to reduce the possibility of inadvertently getting mixed up in spiking and all sorts of other things. The hon. Lady is right to highlight that we should be focusing on the perpetrators and where the problem is, which is why it is so important to have spiking as an overall offence. She is right to say that this is not in any way about telling young women that they cannot go out and have a night of fun.
That leads me on to the next point I want to highlight from the Minister’s letter, which is about violence against women and girls. The Minister writes that the Government are focused on practical rather than legal action, and goes on to list various funding streams for VAWG initiatives. I believe that all of those are important, but they miss the specific point. I, my constituent Maisy, her mother Rosie, so many other constituents of colleagues here—including the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry), who sent me a case from her constituency—the Stamp Out Spiking group, which is represented here today, and many other colleagues who are not able to be here but would have wanted to, all want to see legal action as well as practical action in the form of a simple amendment such as I outlined earlier.
Such an amendment would also be very practical, I believe. It would enable media, social media, local government authorities, police, licensed victualling associations and nightclub managers to say, absolutely correctly and for the first time, that spiking is a named legal offence—that those who even attempt to do it might be cautioned or prosecuted, and might therefore be convicted of a criminal offence, which would seriously damage their chances of keeping or winning a job. I believe that will be very powerful, particularly for students. That message, clear and unambiguous, is what I believe the law should say, not just as guidance to the night-time economy managers but to everyone. It can be done through a simple amendment, which Government and parliamentary lawyers will be able to quickly come up with. I believe work was already being done on that by previous Ministers. It will add to the commitment made by the Prime Minister and this Government to reducing violence against women and girls, as well as affected males—a point that was made earlier by my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes).
So, Minister, will this Government see the light, recognise the value of a simple amendment—not a new law; I get the point on that—and recognise that it is both desirable and necessary to get the message out there? This Government and Parliament could be the ones that make spiking completely illegal for the first time. I believe that other Ministers understood that, and I call on Ministers at the Home Office today to finish the job, and avoid the need for further debate and my wasting their precious ministerial time again. That is the challenge today, and I hope very much that the Minister and the Department will rise to it.