Spiking

We know that many of you are concerned right now about the rise in reports of drink spiking and spiking by injection (needle spiking) both here in Birmingham and across the UK.  We’re concerned too!

As your Guild of Students, your safety on nights out is extremely important to us; whether that’s you being and feeling safe at one of our events, at a venue in Selly Oak, or in the city centre.  We recognise the importance of increasing awareness, letting you know what we’re doing to keep you safe as well as working with you to see what else we can do to improve your safety.  We really are committed to ensuring that all of our students feel safe on nights out.

What Is Drink Spiking?

Drink spiking is where something is added to your drink, usually either alcohol or drugs, without your knowledge.  This is usually done to make the victim more vulnerable to things including theft, sexual assault or it can be seen as an attempted joke.

What Is Spiking ByInjection/Needle Spiking?

There are increased reports right now of people being injected with drugs, via needles, without their knowledge or consent. It’s believed that the same drugs are being used, as those used in drink spiking, as the symptoms are very similar.

How Serious Is Drink Spiking and Spiking by Injection?

It’s very serious and it is illegal to spike someone’s drink or inject them without their knowledge.  The maximum sentence for someone found guilty of drink spiking is 10 years in prison (and University expulsion if they are a Birmingham student). Spiking by injection is still so new, that nobody has yet been charged.  Victims of drink and needle spiking are not the ones at fault and the responsibility for it, lies solely with the perpetrators.

Does Drink Spiking and Spiking by Injection Just Happen To Women?

No, drink spiking and spiking by injection can happen to anyone; no matter your gender, age, sexual orientation, or whether you’re out at a pub, club or a house party.  A quarter of victims of spiking are men. 

How Do I Recognise The Symptoms?

The effects of drink spiking and spiking by injection vary depending on what you’ve been spiked with. Your symptoms could include:

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Loss of balance
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Bruising and pain around the puncture wound (spiking by injection)

If you or a friend start to feel strange or more drunk than you should be, then get help straight away.

How Do I Look After Myself And My Friends?

If you or your friends are showing any symptoms of drink spiking or spiking by injection, there are a few things you can do:

  • Tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff
  • Stay with them and keep talking to them
  • Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates
  • Don’t let them go home on their own
  • Don’t let them leave the venue with someone you don’t know or trust
  • If possible, try and prevent them drinking more alcohol as this could lead to more serious problems

What Are The Guild Doing To Keep Students Safe?

We’ve already joined with students’ unions from Birmingham City University and Aston University, to write a letter asking all night time venues across Birmingham to improve staff training on how to recognise the signs of drink spiking and how to support victims, provide free of charge anti-spiking equipment and testing kits, and not only to report all perpetrators to the Police, but also to ban them from their venue, for life.

Across our social media channels, website and in our venue, we are sharing resources on how to recognise the signs of drink spiking, and what to do if you or your friends suspect you’ve been spiked.

Staff Training

All staff in our venue are issued with training documents that cover crime prevention (including drink spiking and how to limit it) during their induction.  We also provide written briefings for our Venues team on the following:

  • Spiking 
  • What is drink spiking
  • The warning signs of spiking
  • How to avoid spiking
  • What to do as a member of staff

As well as delivering face-to-face briefings for staff working Fab ‘N’ Fresh and Sports Night events, which covers the above topics and additional and specific information relating to their role and responsibility during an event night . 

Drink Toppers

We have free of charge Spikies (to cover bottle tops) available at all bars within our venue, and we’re currently ordering more.  We’ve also ordered 'stop topps' (glass covers), but due to demand, there is a slight delay at present.  As soon as we receive them, we'll let you know.

Drink Spiking Testing Kits

If you think your drink has been spiked in our venue, please report it to a member of staff.  We have drink testing kits available which provide an immediate result, so you and our staff can see if your drink has been spiked.  Just ask a member of our Venues staff to test your drink. 

Replacement Drinks

If anyone suspects their drink may have been tampered with, you should report this to a member of staff.  You will be provided with a replacement drink, free of charge and the drink will be tested.

Bag Searches

All bags will be searched upon entry.

Searches on Entry

We conduct random searches as a condition of entry and these have now increased due to the current circumstances. An increased ratio of attendees will be searched, this will include the emptying of pockets and the use of a metal detector wand.  Those staff conducting the searches will be male and female and we will ensure you are comfortable.  The time of the search will be logged, as will your student ID.  Those searching will be wearing body cameras.  We have a zero-tolerance approach to possession of drugs in our venues - those caught can face a lifetime ban to all events (club nights, gigs and external events).  

Passive Drug Detection Dogs

We are currently trialling the use of drug detection dogs.  Once past the bag search, the passive dogs will scan customers as they enter the premises.  If the dog indicates they have detected the presence of a substance, a secondary search will take place.  You will be notified by the dog's handler that their dog has suggested you may be in possession of an illegal or prohibited item.  You will then be asked what and where it is and you will be allowed to amnesty it, prior to the search.

AmnestyPolicy/Bins

Amnesty bins will be placed at the front of search lanes to encourage persons in possession of illicit substances or prohibited items, to dispose of them safely, without fear of arrest, prior to entering the event.

CCTV and Body Cameras

We have CCTV throughout the Guild building, including in Joe's Bar, the Underground, Beorma Bar and the Debating Hall.  On top of this, an increased number of staff working at events will be wearing body cameras, particularly to monitor queues and entry, random searches and patrolling our venue throughout the night. 

Chill Out Room

A ‘Chill Out Room’ is located opposite Spar on the ground floor (next to Joe's Bar).  It is open for the full duration of Fab 'N' Fresh and Sports Night (from 10pm until 4am).  Phone chargers and water will be available and the room will be staffed by male and female members of staff  and overseen by a duty manager.

Escorts to your Taxi

Our venue staff will also walk customers to the taxi rank (East Gate), if required, and will wait with them until their taxi arrives.

'Ask For Angela'

We've introduced the Ask for Angela scheme in our venue, so any customer who is feeling threatened, uncomfortable or vulnerable, can ‘Ask for Angela’ at our bars and staff will be on hand to help them.

 

What else are the Guild planning to do?

We recognise that there is still a lot more we can do to keep you safe at our venue, which is why we’ve put your safety as our immediate priority and are investigating the following:

  • We held an Open Meeting so you could tell us what safety measures you’d like to see at Fab ‘N’ Fresh and Sports Night, to help you feel safe
  • Publicising the Active Bystander guidelines
  • Scanning all IDs when you sign guests into Fab ‘N’ Fresh and Sports Night

This is just the beginning as we know there is still lots more work to be done to ensure all our students feel safe on nights out, right across the city.  We will continue to pressure venue managers from night-time venues across the city, to ensure they prioritise your safety in their venues, and we’ll also be meeting with local MPs and the Police, to see what else can be done. 

If you’d like to talk to us about a safety concern you have, please contact us at fto@guild.bham.ac.uk.

 

Useful Resources

Frank has further tips to help keep you safe


 


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