Police Increasingly Using Rapid Test Kits for ‘date Rape Drug’

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Police around the nation are increasingly starting to use a test kit that can quickly determine whether a sexual assault victim was given a so-called date rape drug.

Use of the rapid test kit is seen expanding further as it helps enable speedy investigations of suspected sexual assault cases and eases the burdens on victims.

Date rape drugs, including sleep-inducing drugs, are used by sexual assault perpetrators to render their victims unconscious or unable to resist. Such drugs are often slipped into drinks, such as alcoholic beverages.

People who report to the police conditions such as having suddenly lost consciousness after drinking can undergo urine testing with the kit quickly at facilities including police stations. The kit can detect in a matter of minutes whether a date rape drug was used.

The Metropolitan Police Department began to use the kit in earnest at police stations in the capital in April. It was developed by the MPD Criminal Investigation Bureau’s first investigation division, which mainly handles heinous crimes such as murder and sexual assault, in cooperation with a private-sector company. As of last month, the kit had been used in some 100 cases.

In addition to the MPD, the police departments of six prefectures — Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Shizuoka, Hyogo and Kagoshima — had introduced the rapid test kit by October, making it available at the headquarters and police stations.

“If we can quickly confirm that sleeping pills [or other suspicious drugs] have been used, we can preserve evidence at an early stage,” a senior official at the Yamagata prefectural police department said.

Using the kit can ease the mental burdens on victims of date rape drugs, as some victims think that they drank too much and blame themselves. One such victim told the MPD that she felt better after the kit showed she was given a date rape drug.

An MPD section that provides around-the-clock consultation services to sexual assault victims receives many requests for consultations, including from people who think that they may have fallen victim to sexual crimes because they suddenly felt drowsy after drinking and from those who want to get tested for date rape drugs.

“We can respond immediately, so we hope people consult the police and don’t worry alone,” a senior investigative official at the MPD said.