Police have warned of the deadly risk of taking GHB after a rise in reported crimes involving the drug which was used by Britain's worst ever rapist Reynhard Sinaga to target his victims.
And despite lockdown measures to tackle coronavirus, a senior officer told Sky News that the "chemsex" drug is still coming into the country.
The illegal Class C substance and the similar drug GBL – which converts to GHB in the body – were involved in at least 112 alleged offences between 2017 and 2019 including rape, sexual assault on a child and attempted murder, according to police data released under the Freedom of Information Act.
A Sky News investigation found the number of reported crimes involving GHB or GBL rose from 31 in 2017 to 37 in 2018 and 44 in 2019.
The liquid drug is often used during "chemsex", a term which describes sex under the influence of illegal substances, mainly mephedrone, crystal meth, GHB or GBL.
The Metropolitan Police's senior officer in charge of tackling chemsex-related crimes warned there was an increased risk of the offences being committed online during lockdown – including people live-streaming chemsex in "Zoom Rooms" and some offenders sharing indecent images of children.
Inspector Allen Davis told Sky News: "The chemsex scene continues throughout lockdown.
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"There's a distinct element online and obviously that's something we're concerned about at the moment.
"You've got people involved in chemsex live-streaming what they are doing, and then lots of people joining in a Zoom call.
"We're not in a position to say with any certainty the prevalence [of chemsex-related crimes during lockdown], although we do know it has continued. The risks may have increased."
Mr Davis said GHB was "an integral part of the chemsex scene" and warned the drug – which along with GBL is commonly known as "G" – is still being imported into the UK during lockdown.
"Because it has alternative uses, a lot of it will be imported on the pretext of being an industrial alloy cleaner," he added.
"The key thing around G is the very real risk of fatal overdoses."
There were 120 deaths in England and Wales between 2014 and 2018 that involved GHB, according to the Office for National Statistics.
But the total number could be much higher as GHB is not part of routine toxicology tests after sudden deaths.
The risks of the drug include unconsciousness, coma and death, with less than one millilitre between a dose that gets a person high and a dose that leaves them unresponsive.
The number of reported crimes involving GHB or GBL is likely to be much higher than the figure revealed by police as just 20 UK forces provided details of the alleged offences. It followed freedom of information requests by Sky News to the UK's 45 territorial forces and British Transport Police.
Forces which did not provide the information included the Met Police, which investigated murderers Stephen Port and Gerald Matovu – who poisoned men with GHB – and Greater Manchester Police, which led the inquiry into the UK's most prolific rapist Reynhard Sinaga, who was jailed earlier this year for 159 sex offences.
Police believe Sinaga used drinks laced with GHB to make his victims unconscious before he attacked them.
Among the alleged crimes involving GHB or GBL between 2017 and 2019:
- West Mercia Police said a sexual assault on a child under 13 involving GHB was reported in 2019
- Warwickshire Police said alleged crimes involving GHB included an attempted murder in 2018 and a sexual assauRead More – Source