Your wellbeing is our number one priority and we're committed to ensuring you can enjoy a safe night out in our venues.

Our Spiked campaign is here to raise awareness and inform you about how we're tackling the issue with a range of anti-spiking measures.

The campaign also acts as a warning to perpetrators - drink spiking 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.

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

What is spiking?

Spiking is when someone puts alcohol or drugs into another person’s drink or body without their consent or knowledge.

People can also be a victim of ‘needle spiking’, which is injecting someone with drugs without their consent.

Spiking can happen to anyone, anywhere and can be carried out by strangers or people you know.

Spiking someone could be a number of criminal offences, which can carry sentences of up to ten years in prison; even when no other offence, like theft or assault, has happened.

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.

Recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine and other ‘party-drugs’ are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks. Mixing alcohol and stimulants can be very dangerous and can cause serious medical problems, ranging from nausea to coma.

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.

What are the symptoms?

The effects of drink spiking 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

The symptoms will depend on lots of factors such as the substance or mix of substances used (including the dose), your size and weight, and how much alcohol you have already consumed.

Needle spiking

With needle spiking, victims have also reported feeling a ‘pinching’, ‘scratching’ or ‘sharp’ feeling. Some people have discovered bruises or pin-pricks on their skin afterwards or felt aching in the area they believe was injected.

Where does spiking happen?

Put simply, it can happen anywhere, but it is more likely to happen in venues such as nightclubs, parties, pubs, restaurants and private homes. Historically, pubs and nightclubs have been the main source of incidents but the Police have pointed to a rise in 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

To offer you more assurance, we have elevated our security protocol and increased the number of searches conducted at our venues.

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. Where possible, please arrive at events as early as you can.

  • Anti-spiking measures

We have a range of anti-spiking products, including Spikeys and StopTopps, in our venues, along with NightCap scrunchies available to purchase from the Union Shop.

Full details of these products, along with spiking testing kits, are available from the Advice Centre if you are worried that you have been a victim of spiking.

  • Spikeys

Spikeys (plastic anti-spiking bottle stoppers) have been available in our venues since September 2018; our staff team is trained 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.

  • StopTopps

We are very aware that the majority of our drinks are served in glasses/cups of some nature, and that in the past we have not had anti-spiking measures in place for these products – welcome Stoptopps! These are self-adhesive single-use foil lids that will fit onto any drinking vessel up to 100mm wide. Stoptopps are available on request from the bar for all poured and served drinks.

  • Drug Testing Kits

We stock drug testing kits and these are available from the on-site medic at Union Venue events or from the Advice Centre at 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.

  • First Aid

Spiking test strips are available in our venues and a first aider/paramedic is always on-site to offer medical assistance should you need it. If you think that you or a friend may have been spiked, please immediately inform a member of the bar staff, Good Night Out Crew, or security team who will be able to assist you.

  • 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 you or a friend has been spiked it’s important to tell someone as soon as you can. 

  • If you are in our venues, inform a member of the bar staff, Good Night Out Crew, or security team who will assist you.
  • Find somewhere safe, away from large groups of people.
  • Stay with your friend and keep talking to them.
  • Don’t let them go home on their own or leave with someone you don’t know.
  • Report to the police online, on 101 or, in an emergency, call 999. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use the Police's textphone service 18000 or text 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.

If you or someone else have symptoms:

  • If you are worried call 111.
  • Call an ambulance if the symptoms get worse.

If you think there may have been a sexual assault:

  • Go to your nearest sexual assault referral centre (SARC) for specialist care and support.

Letting people know gives the best chance of looking after you and gathering any evidence where a crime may have taken place.

Report a crime

If you’ve witnessed or been the victim of a crime please report it to Surrey Police.

If you feel someone is in immediate danger, please call 999 now. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use the Police's textphone service 18000 or text 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.

We know it can be scary to report being spiked, but the police are here to help you. They will listen to you and take you seriously. 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.

If you suspect you have been spiked in one of our venues please contact with the details of the incident so that we can investigate what has happened and a member of our team will get in touch. We are on your side, so if you come to us with a complaint or allegation we will always operate on a basis of trust. We cannot guarantee any specific outcomes of an investigation, but we promise that we will treat you with respect and empathy throughout. 

Download the toolkit