Operation MATISSE: Investigating Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault

November 2006: The above report is published. I’m not a great fan of hyphenated words, but I think there should be a hyphen here. The screengrab at the bottom of the page is the short version from the website of the Institute of Alcohol Studies.

ACPO was renamed/replaced in 2015 by the National Police Chiefs’ Council - old beer in a new bottle!

Here is my summary of the November 2006 ACPO report.

This 34 page document is the result of a 12 month study into claims that (young) women were regularly being targeted by serial rapists who were spiking their drinks with an undetectable drug that rendered them unconscious leaving them with no memory of the previous few hours. In short, the perfect date-rape drug.

Like many dystopian ideas from science fiction or the rumour mill, this is a case of life imitating art. There have now been many confirmed cases of women being so drugged. The two most well-known such drugs being flunitrazepam better known by its brand name Rohypnol (roofies) and gamma-hydroxybutyrate, known by the acronym GHB. Ketamine is another drug that rightly has a bad name. GHB is colourless and odourless; it is also produced by the body in extremely small quantities, which can cause complications in the forensic laboratory.

Regarding actual drug-facilitated rape, the two worst cases by far happened in London. The first was Black Cab Rapist John Worboys who was convicted in 2009 of drugging a dozen women. The usual suspects claim he attacked many more, and for once they might be right.

In 2016, the homosexual Stephen Port was convicted of four murders, all young men who had been drugged with GHB. Again, there has been genuine concern that a serial predator may have claimed more victims.

Returning to the Operation Matisse report, of the 120 alleged victims, 119 had purportedly been drinking alcohol. I say alleged victims, because some of those involved decided not to press charges, and there is no indication in the report of how many convictions resulted.

GHB was detected in the urine of one alleged victim, and from a hair sample of another.

Over half of the 120 admitted to having willingly taken recreational drugs (apart from alcohol) prior to the alleged assault. These drugs included cannabis and cocaine, the latter of which is a well-known hallucinogen.

On page 20, it is concluded both that Rohypnol might not be (ie is not) the threat it is generally believed to be, and that alcohol was the commonest drug (by far) detected in the study.

In social drinkers “one could expect marked intoxication at levels of 200 mg% and symptoms could include reduced inhibitions, disorientation, impaired judgement and co-ordination, drowsiness, memory loss and (at higher levels) unconsciousness.”

Page 28: “62.5% of victims did not know the identity of the alleged assailant.”

What can we conclude from all this? That drug-facilitated sexual assault is extremely rare, but when women are sexually assaulted so, the drug concerned is self-administered alcohol. The claim that well over half of those concerned were or believed/claimed they were sexually assaulted by strangers is truly shocking. The police have gone out of their way to warn women to take reasonable precautions, but this is called victim blaiming, as is any other suggestion that women should take responsibility for their actions. Many of these airheads would really rather see a woman raped that take sensible advice from even police officers.

It should be noted that in the years since this report, there has been an unspoken acknowledgment by rape crisis workers that the conclusions therein are true, even though probably very few outside the UK have read it. The tendency now is to accuse men of using alcohol as a weapon to incapacitate women in order to have their way with them. While there have been and are such cases, including the quite shocking 2013 Vanderbilt University case (in which the victim may also have been drugged), women are quite capable of getting drunk and making bad choices of their own, as in the Amy Shackelford case. It has though become extremely dangerous for all men, especially students, to have sex with women who have consumed any quantity of alcohol. All it takes is for a woman to claim the following day, following week, month, year...that she was too drunk to consent or could not remember consenting, and some poor guy’s life will be trashed.

A shocking and disgraceful example of the former, one even the sisterhood didn’t buy, was the case of Graeme Stening, while a truly amazing case is the June 28, 2018 incident involving Amanda Barrow.


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