Nights out should be safe for everyone

Nights out should be safe for everyone!

Deputy President (Welfare)
Tuesday 26 October 2021 11:32

Content Warning: Discussion of spiking and date rape drugs

Some of you may have seen some reports in the news or on social media of an increase in incidences of spiking in London nightclubs, as well as reports of spiking occurring via injection. As a Union, we want to do everything we can to fulfil our duty of care to keep you safe in our venues, and to give you the resources you need to look after yourselves beyond the four walls of the Quad.

What does spiking mean?

Spiking is when someone is given an intoxicating substance without their consent or knowledge – these substances could be illegal drugs, date rape drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol. It often happens in house parties, clubs and bars – and often the victim is spiked by someone they already know. It’s a dangerous and serious crime – and can result in up to 10 years in prison for the perpetrator.

What to Look Out For

The effects of spiking could vary, depending on the type of substance that was used. Some symptoms to look out for include:

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Loss of balance
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness

As you have probably noticed, some of these symptoms may resemble alcohol poisoning. If you are planning to pre-drink before a night out, it is good to make sure that you eat and drink plenty of food and non-alcoholic liquids in addition to any alcohol you may be consuming to help slow the absorption of alcohol. This can help you last the night without getting sick and also helps to ensure an overall much more pleasant experience. 

If someone you know is exhibiting these symptoms during a night out, it is important to act quickly and without judgment. If they have been spiked, it is important to remember that this is not their fault. The only person who is responsible for this is the person who tried to intoxicate them without their consent.   

If this takes place at one of the Union venues, tell a member of staff straight away so that they can offer to test their drink and seek assistance from our paramedic, if needed. Offer to stay and wait for them to recover, in case they need assistance getting home or to an A&E department afterwards. 

If this happens to someone you are with in a nightclub or bar outside the Union, tell a member of the bar staff or a bouncer and ask if they have any testing strips available. Make sure not to leave their side and keep talking to them to make sure they stay awake. Do not let them leave the venue alone or with someone you don’t know or trust. Try to prevent them from drinking more alcohol, as this can lead to more serious problems. Offer to help them get to the nearest A&E, both for urgent medical care and to get a blood test to screen for any drugs that may have been used to spike them. If at any point their condition deteriorates to the point where they are unresponsive or unconscious, call for an ambulance by dialling 999.

How we can Keep You Safe

We will be doing everything we can to implement as many additional safety measures as possible for Athletics Clubs Committee night this Wednesday. Given the tight turnaround on which this information has been delivered to us, it will be a challenge to get absolutely everything implemented before that time, and so we are aiming to get all our measures rolled out before our Halloween event on Saturday. Here are our plans moving forwards:

Security and Bag Checks

This is a measure that already exists for all our ticketed events. We have security posted at the entrance to the Quad, who will be checking Student IDs and tickets to ensure that only student members are allowed access into the venue. Additionally, Security is asked to perform a bag check for everyone who enters to search for and confiscate alcohol, needles and any illicit substances (among a number of other things that could also pose a risk to safety).

Trained and Approachable Staff

We have asked our staff to wear easily identifiable, branded t-shirts and jumpers during ticketed night events so that students know who to turn to when they need to access support.  We are also providing them scripts for responding to suspected spikings. The key thing we are emphasising to staff is that they need to ensure that each reported incident is treated with a consistent and attentive approach to student wellbeing.

Drink Testing Strips

We will be implementing the use of drink testing strips in our training to staff on the handling of suspected spiking cases. If suspect that you or someone you know has been spiked, you can ask for a member of staff to test your drink who can then advise you on the next steps to take.

First Aid

We have decided to recruit an external first aid provider for our ticketed night events, in addition to our other trained staff. It is also important to ensure that we add more trained members to our staff team that are available on call to provide wellbeing support to students. There will be spaces in the Union building to provide a safe and quiet space for the paramedic to attend to the individual in distress.

Drink Covers

We will be handing out single-use plastic lids at our bars upon request. Additionally, we will be purchasing reusable silicone lids and providing them to students to take away and use throughout other bars and nightclubs in London.

Reaching out to London Nightclubs

We will be reaching out to neighbouring nightclubs that are frequented by our students and providing them with our protocols and training for staff around the handling of drink spiking. We will encourage these nightclubs to implement these measures as a way of reassuring their patrons and keeping them safe. We will also be collaborating with other students unions and writing to local councils to encourage them to put pressure on nightclub venues and bars to enact these measures. You can take part in this effort by signing this UK government petition to provide free spiking test strips at all bars.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has been affected by spiking, please approach a member of staff with your concerns. If you witness a drink being tampered with, tell a member of Security straight away. We want to do everything we can to ensure your safety and wellbeing but are limited in what we can do if you have not spoken to us. Part of being an active bystander is delegating to a person in charge to address the situation; that is what we are here for.

NB: Response to demands

Spiking Town Hall FAQs