Protecting You From Being Spiked

Following an increase in the reports of drink spiking incidents across the UK, find out what we're doing to help keep you safe in our venues. We've also put together some top tips to make you aware of some preventative steps you can take to reduce the risk of spiking happening to you or your friends.

Following an increase in the reports of drink spiking incidents across the UK, the Students' Union wants to reiterate our zero-tolerance policy approach to the spiking of drinks. We will work closely with the University and Police to push for prosecution with the full force of the law at every available opportunity.

We are taking this matter extremely seriously and are re-launching our Spiked campaign aimed at ending drink spiking on campus. As part of the campaign, we’re taking a number of proactive measures to keep you safe within our venues, and we’ll also be producing educational materials to help you stay safer when drinking.

Our Spiked campaign also acts as a warning to individuals who may think about adding an extra shot or something more malicious to a drink - spiking someone’s drink carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence - while helping to educate our campus community on the proactive steps you can take to look after both yourself and your friends on nights out.

It’s important to note that individuals are never at fault if they have been spiked, but it’s crucial that you’re aware of some preventative steps you can take to reduce the risk, what to do if you suspect an issue has happened, and ultimately how you can look out for yourself and your friends when you’re on a night out. Remember we’re not just talking about our venues here, this goes for anywhere you may be out drinking in the local community – including house parties.

What are you doing to reduce the risk of drink spiking in SU venues?

Working with our partners, including Surrey Police, we will be concentrating on a number of different initiatives including:

  • Increased security presence - we will be elevating our security protocol across our venues for the foreseeable future in a number of ways. 
  • Spikeys offered with drinks - while Spikeys (plastic anti-spiking bottle stoppers) have been available in our venues since September 2018 we’ll now be re-training our staff team to offer them to anyone purchasing a bottled beverage. They’re absolutely free of charge and simply pop into the neck of the bottle to prevent people from dropping a substance into your drink.
  • Trial of drink covers - we're currently sourcing and trialling the use of protective drink covers within our venues. There is a range of these available on the market and generally, they are plastic re-usable covers that you pop over the top of a glass and then pierce with a straw. We'll provide more updates on these as the trial progresses.
  • Drug testing kits - we are sourcing a new supply of drug testing kits and will make these available from the on-site medic at Union Venue events or from the Students' Union the day after an event. The results from these kits will be used in a non-prejudicial way and should help to inform you of the next steps you need to take e.g. reporting a crime to the Police or the specific type of medical care required.
  • Wider educational campaign - we’ve created a range of artwork to be used across our venues and social media channels to build awareness of what you need to consider when it comes to potentially having your drink spiked.

To read more on our initiatives and the additional measures that are being scaled up behind the scenes, visit our Spiked campaign page.

What About Next Steps?

We're aware of the national demands being made by the Girls Night In campaign and are currently reviewing these to understand where we can make additional improvements that will make our venues a safer environment. We're also in touch with the local campaign organisers and will bring you further updates following those discussions.

In the meantime, here are some top tips that you should consider to reduce the risk of spiking happening to you or your friends:

Always cover your drink                                                        

If you order a bottled drink from the bar, you should be offered a free Spikeys to pop into the neck of the bottle. If you're not, please ask your server for one! If you've not got a Spikeys or you're out somewhere and don't have that option, you should make sure to put your thumb over the top of the bottle when you're not drinking. This is especially helpful if you’re on the dance floor or within a busy crowd where people might knock into you. If you have a glass or cup, holding it with your palm over the top instead of against the side of the drink can make it harder for anyone to slip anything in.

Stick with your friends

Whether you’re going out as a dynamic duo or you’ve got your whole squad with you, make sure you look after each other. It’s better to go to the bar together than alone. This ensures that your friends can be there to make sure you get the necessary help if anything happens. Remember, you can always ask any of our staff team for help if you suspect you have been spiked.

Look out for signs of tampering

If you have left your drink unattended, always check it to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with. You can check it for simple things such as:

  • Strange tastes
  • Cloudy appearances
  • Different colour or/and odour
  • Empty medicinal packets on the floor, nearby etc.
  • Unusual bubbling
  • Differences in position
  • Addition or removal of a straw

If you are concerned that your drink has been tampered with, speak to a member of security within the venue and they will assist you. Remember, that certain drugs can be odourless, colourless and tasteless.

Stop drinking if it tastes funny

Make sure you stop drinking if it tastes off or unusual. It’s better to immediately presume that the situation has become unsafe than to continue drinking and further endanger yourself. If you or your friend do start to feel any unusual symptoms, such as loss of vision or confusion, then connect with a friend and speak with a member of security. They will help you take the necessary steps to ensure your or your friend's safety. You can read more about the potential symptoms of drink spiking on the Drinkaware website.

Think twice about accepting random drinks

We understand that the offer of a free drink is often tempting. But if you cannot keep an eye on the serving of your drink or you have any doubts about the person offering it to you, it’s best to politely decline. If you do decide to accept the drink, ensure that you stay at the bar as the drink is being ordered and served.

Keep an eye on your drink

Make sure you never leave your drink unattended. If you do need to, give it to a friend to guard or finish it before running off to the dance floor or visiting the bathroom. If you have left your drink alone and you’re unsure whether it’s safe to drink, just leave it and buy a new one. It's better to be safe than sorry.

What to do if you suspect you've been spiked

If you think yourself or a friend has been spiked, dispose of the drink in question immediately. Inform a member of the bar or security team who will be able to assist you. Find somewhere safe, away from large groups of people but with a friend and potentially with support from our staff team. If it is your friend that has been spiked, make sure you don't leave them alone. Contact the GP Surgery (if the incident occurs during their opening hours) or NHS Advice (111) immediately. Alternatively, the nearest A&E department is St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey - attend here straight away if you feel sleepy, vomit or have hallucinations.

If you're capable, arrange transport and travel home but only go home with someone you totally trust. If you are with people you do not know, contact a trusted friend or relative to come and take you home and look after you. If you or your friend is comfortable doing so, inform the police about the incident - they may ask for a sample of your blood or urine to test, to find out if drugs have been used. It is important you are tested as soon as possible if you think your drink was spiked as most drugs leave your body within 12 –72 hours.

The Students' Union is currently sourcing home drug test kits and will be making these available to anyone that believes they have been spiked. Please contact venues@su.rhul.ac.uk to request a kit. As above, do so as soon as possible after the incident. While we await stock arriving, we advise you to report incidents to the Police - this helps to build up an understanding of the scale of the issue within the local area.

If you suspect you have been spiked in one of our venues please contact venues@su.rhul.ac.uk with the details of the incident so that we can investigate what has happened and a member of our team will get in touch.