The Students' Union takes a zero-tolerance approach to the spiking of drinks and will work closely with the University and Police to push for prosecution with the full force of the law at every available opportunity. Our Spiked campaign is there 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.

What is drink spiking?

Drink spiking is when alcohol or drugs are added to a drink without an individual's knowledge. Doing this can lead to an individual becoming more vulnerable, so it's important that you can recognise the signs and take fast action to get help either for yourself or a friend.

What drugs are involved?

While we often associate the spiking of drinks with date rape drugs such as Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), according to the NHS one of the most common forms of drink spiking is the addition of alcohol to a person's drink. By adding shots of alcohol such as vodka to a soft drink, or increasing a single to a double, an individual may become drunk much quicker than expected.

Other recreational drugs can also be used to spike a drink such as ketamine or LSD which can result in a dangerous mix of stimulants and alcohol. It's important to note that even if an individual has taken drugs or alcohol voluntarily, it is drink spiking if they have not consented to an additional substance being added to their drink.

Where does drink spiking happen?

Put simply, it can happen anywhere that you are having a drink, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. What we do know is that certain locations are perceived to be higher risk and historically it has been pubs and nightclubs that have been the main source of incidents.

Recent briefings from the Police have however pointed to a rise to spiking at house parties (such as pre-drinks) and festivals.


Steps we're taking

The Union works closely with the University and the Police to prevent and reduce the impact of drugs on campus and part of this partnership involves the sharing of CCTV footage of incidents and pushing for prosecution where possible.

We have a number of initiatives that are aimed at helping to prevent drink spiking within our venues:

  • Increased Security Presence

We will be elevating our security protocol across our venues for the foreseeable future in a number of ways including the searching of everyone entering the Union Venue. One side effect of this will potentially be an impact on the speed of entry into our venues but it is essential that you feel safe when going on a night out at the Students’ Union. Where possible please arrive at events as early as you can.

If you attended Fetish Friday earlier in this academic term you will have seen evidence of how we work with Surrey Police and these pop-up operations will continue to happen across our venues along with the use of undercover officers.

  • 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. You can download these below to display at your own events or use them across your social media channels to help spread the message.

It's important to reiterate that the 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.

Read our tips on how to protect your drink on a night out.

While we believe that our venues are very safe, it’s key that we work together to tackle this absolutely malicious and dangerous crime. Even one incident like this is too many so please remember to never let your drink out of your sight, don’t accept drinks from strangers and look out for your friends. It's also vitally important that you report any incident so we can build up a picture of the scale of the issue.


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.

Download the toolkit

Spiked Poster 1

Spiked Poster 2

Spiked Poster 3