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Review of GHB Deaths (2011-15)

A comprehensive and thorough review into 58 deaths from Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) poisoning across London between June 2011 and October 2015 was carried out following the murders committed by Stephen Port.

The results of the extensive reviews were presented at two case closure panels that included senior officers and independent advisors from the LGBT+ Independent Advisory Group. The panel were satisfied the reviews did not identify that any death was a homicide. The review concluded with a final report in 2019.

Organisational learning was identified and this has been accepted and action taken to improve our service and investigative approach. This is alongside the issues identified following the offences committed by Stephen Port and the action taken since then to learn and improve. A toolkit and a checklist document have been created to provide guidance for front-line officers and investigating officers on how to best respond to allegations of drug facilitated sexual assault or sexual assault following chemsex. We have also developed a chemsex ‘flag’ on our crime reporting systems to make it easier to identify such offences.

In 2016, all frontline officers across the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) received extra training on rape, which included the issue of chemsex and associated offences. Additional training on chemsex and LGBT+ issues was also given, with the help of Galop and other LGBT+ partner organisations, to specialist officers who investigate rape and sexual offences.

Following a number of deaths occurring across sauna venues, the MPS worked closely with businesses and community members to mitigate risk and focus on long-term solutions through partnership working. The risks identified within sauna venues included the practice of chemsex within increased temperature environments.

The MPS took a collaborative long-term approach and built stakeholder trust by holding meetings & consulting with all related community businesses, which helped to create strong professional relationships and ensured barriers were broken down. The MPS worked closely with Public Health, local authorities and the charitable sector to promote public health safety. The MPS‘s collaboration with local business leaders led to the establishment of Safer Saunas; an initiative to work together to improve public safety and wellbeing within MSM premises (premises where men have sex with men) by adhering closely to licensing guidelines even though the saunas themselves were not licensed premises.

The initiative was supported by all the businesses involved and professionalised through the MPS’s partnership with Safer Business Network, under the provision of the Business Crime Reduction Partnership. A website was established and information sharing processes implemented to ensure all partners could communicate effectively, share best practice and reduce risks. This resulted in the formation of strong relations between businesses, increased community confidence in the police, and significantly reduced the risk of harm to people visiting sauna venues.

Advice about chemsex, developed in partnership with the LGBT Independent Advisory Group (IAG), features on our website at:

The review further increased our understanding of chemsex and highlighted the dangers involved. In 2018, the MPS and National Probation Service established the London Chemsex Working Group, with other partners. It aims to reduce harm and vulnerability related to chemsex and raise awareness amongst professionals in order to increase identification of chemsex cases, encourage information sharing between agencies and identify those who are vulnerable.

The MPS continues to work hard to support the Coronial Inquests touching the deaths of those murdered by Stephen Port which commence in January 2021. It is not appropriate to comment on the Inquests until all the evidence is heard. However the presiding Coroner has agreed that the sharing of this GHB deaths review will not impact on the Inquest and it is now being shared to show some of the work undertaken since Stephen Port was arrested and convicted for a range of offences including the murders of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor.*

*This text by Metropolitan Police Service to accompany the Review

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Review of GHB Deaths | Metropolitan Police Service, Homicide and Major Crime Command | 17 Jul 2019

Stephen Port | MEN R US
About and using G | MEN R US
Play Safer Chemsex campaign | MEN R US

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