Spiking Scandal: Time to Take Action

Student journalist Laura Mills shares her thoughts on the recent surge of drink spikings in Sheffield clubs.

As most people will be aware by now, a spiking epidemic has been taking place across the country. Cases of drink spiking have also been on the rise in Sheffield clubs and several people have been made victims to these awful attacks. I want to start off by saying what a lot of people are thinking: how the hell has this happened? Reports of spikings have been in the local headlines since August of this year and if the correct measures were taken, I believe we would have had far less cases.

As women, one of our biggest fears is walking home alone at night. For me, I’m constantly checking behind my shoulder and wouldn’t dare put my earphones in because I want to make sure I can hear any potential threats. However, our clubs where we go to sing, dance and have a good time, should be safe places, but even that has now been jeopardised!

Our clubs only reopened in July and within a month, people were already being spiked. Now, four months down the line, we’ve had thousands claiming they’ve been spiked. After a draining 18 months isolated and stuck in the house, why have some people chosen to go out and ruin it for everyone else? If I had to summarise how I feel I would say angry and frustrated, but most of all confused. I’m so terribly confused as to why someone would choose to drop something in a stranger’s drink which has devastating effects on them. Even in the SU, there has been at least five students claiming they have been spiked. If a venue located in a university isn’t safe, I feel very unsafe in city centre clubs. On social media, there have also been reports of women being injected by needles in order to be spiked. This is abhorrent beyond belief.

On social media, people who have claimed they have been spiked have talked about the sickness and blacking out, but the impacts can be far greater than that. For some people, this will shatter their confidence and make them anxious about attending venues like this again. For the rest of us, who haven’t been directly affected, we have lost our faith in the clubs due to their lack of responsibility and action. Despite that, I would like to commend places like The Leadmill and Tiger Works who are offering drink covers and bottle caps. I just wish that other clubs and bars were trying to take things as seriously.

Although the main focus of this piece is to share my opinion about this with yourselves, I’m not just here to shove my opinion down your throat and I would to explain how we can take action and get involved. Starting in Edinburgh, a campaign called Girls Night In is now circulating around the country and I contacted the organisers of Sheffield’s Girls Night In to find out more.

Their mission is ‘to create awareness of spiking epidemic in UK nightclubs and help to enforce preventative measures against spiking.’ They explained further: “The escalation in recent weeks in Sheffield and across the country, in both frequency and manner (women have been spiked via injections) has left women and all genders ever more afraid. This is not getting ‘black-out drunk’, this is getting drugged and is something that must change”.

Girls Night In’s NATIONAL aims to combat spiking by:

– Greater repercussions for perpetrators

– Up to date staff training on immediate responses, prevention and treatment

– Increased searches upon entry to establishments, i.e. bag checks, metal detectors

– Higher quality, more widely covering CCTV at the bar, to be able to see faced in aim to press charges

– Better support and care for those who think they have been spiked, immediately and in the longer term

– More obvious direction to where to get help in clubs i.e. posters in the bathrooms

– Stoppers for bottles and cup covers given out free and in abundance

– Prevention and treatment policies suitable to the current severity of the issue

So how can you get involved?

In Sheffield, on Wednesday 27th October, the campaign encourages boycotting the clubs in order “to force clubs to pay attention and take action against spiking. We implore everyone to boycott Sheffield nightclubs as part of the Girls Night In movement, not just girls.” They added: “This is not a stay at home message. We’re not telling people not to go out and enjoy themselves, go to cinemas and restaurants, just not nightclubs for the one night!”

Head to the Girls Night In Sheffield Instagram to see more information:

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