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Spiking Attacks in Hospitality Venues

Venues across the country are being advised to be extra vigilant due to an alarming rise in spiking incidents. This includes a relatively new series of assaults where victims – in most cases women – are being targeted and injected with an unknown substance, resulting in sickness, vomiting, and in some cases temporary paralysis.

Needle spiking has made headlines across the country over the last week, leaving those who frequent bars and clubs feel vulnerable. The return of the student population to Universities has seen a huge increase in students venturing out to bars and clubs across these cities enjoying the local night life and meeting new people.

These worrying incidents are reportedly being carried out when patrons are queuing for entrance into bars and night clubs, and it is being reported that those who have experienced these attacks are feeling sharp pinches in their backs at the time of the attack. Symptoms are quick to follow, and it can appear that someone is heavily intoxicated.

Groups and associations across the country are now organising scheduled boycotts of pubs and clubs to raise awareness and call for action following the increase in spiking incidents. Groups such as ‘Girls Night In’ and ‘Good Night Out’ are hoping to raise awareness and encourage both venues and customers to be more vigilant when it comes to spiking.

What about drink-spiking?

In response to the recent events within the hospitality industry, night clubs and bars across the UK are standing in solidarity and put in extra measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their customers and staff. Venues across the city are also providing their customers with advice on what to look out for in possible drink-spiking cases. These include:

  • Change in colour of your drink
  • Excessive bubbles
  • A sudden foggy appearance of your drink
  • A salty or ‘off’ taste
  • Sinking ice.

All may be signs that a drink has been tampered with. Drink spiking can lead to someone feeling more vulnerable, limiting their understanding of what has happened to them. Most date rape drugs take effect within 15 – 30 minutes and can have symptoms that can last for several hours.

Symptoms of drink-spiking and needle-spiking to look out for can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Loss of balance
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion, and in extreme cases unconsciousness

How can customers protect themselves from potential spiking on a night out?

  • Let people know where you are and when your expected time to return
  • Avoid being alone at night and keep to well lit, busier areas
  • Don’t accept drinks from people who you don’t know or trust
  • Don’t leave drinks unattended or out of view
  • Ensure you stay with people you know and feel safe with
  • Let someone know immediately if you are feeling vulnerable or think you may have been spiked
  • Understand that it is not your fault if you have been spiked, and report it to the Police as soon as you can

What measures are being taken by venues?

Additional measures are being introduced to ensure that all customers feel safe in venues during their visits, including:

  • Training of the teams
  • Additional door staff on venues and an increase in bag searches
  • Identifiable and approachable door teams
  • A policy of unattended drinks being removed from tables
  • CCTV monitoring and regular reviews
  • Additional monitoring of smoking and outdoor areas
  • Visual aids with information on how to prevent it happening and what to look out for
  • Drink testing kits being made available to customers

As with any risk which has the potential to cause harm, Venues have a duty of care to put measures in place to reduce that risk. You may need to update your risk assessments to take into account new measures in your venue.

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