Leeds nightclubs increase safety and security measures after drink and injection spiking reports
Leeds clubs, bars and university unions have announced measures they intend to take after reports of a rise in drink spiking and spiking by injection.
It comes after groups from more than 30 universities joined an online campaign calling for the boycott of nightclubs, with campaigners seeking “tangible” changes to make them safer, such as covers/stoppers for drinks, better training for staff and more rigorous searches of clubbers.
Police forces across the country have been asked by Home Secretary Priti Patel to urgently assess the scale of drink spiking and spiking by injection at nightclubs and parties
West Yorkshire Police has confirmed that it is investigating one case of spiking by injection in Leeds city centre that occurred on October 13 of this year.
The students behind the Girls Night In Leeds Instagram account said they have received hundreds of messages from people who say they have been spiked in Leeds in the last few months.
In response to the reports, Leeds University Union said it has signed up to the Good Night Out campaign, which aims to help nightlife organisations to better understand, respond to, and prevent sexual harassment and assault.
A spokesperson said: “Drinks spiking is something we know happens to all genders but recent reports in the media have focused on women. These reports follow on from a number of horrific cases of violence against women raising further concerns.
“We take our duty of care very seriously and work closely with the university, police and other authorities every year to try to prevent these incidents from happening to anyone.
“This year we have sought to increase awareness of the issue in response to concerns reported to our officers. We have provided posters and digital screen information, and trained our staff in initiatives such as ‘Ask Angela’.
“We have invested in drinks protection measures for anyone who wants to use them.
“Our teams are working with our Officers to continually review our operations and to protect all attendees, and we will be introducing additional searches on entry to our club nights.
Leeds Beckett Student Union (LBSU) said they will be working with other student union’s, the university and organisations across Leeds to tackle the issue.
A statement from the LBSU officer team read: “We do not host club nights but all our venues hold a zero tolerance policy towards any kind of inappropriate behaviour, be it sexual, physical or verbal abuse of any of our customers or staff.
“Too often, events like this result in advice being offered to the people who are the most afflicted by these serious safety issues and we want to ensure that this is not the way this conversation goes.
“It shouldn’t be up to us to constantly protect ourselves and we shouldn’t always have to prepare for the worst. That’s why we’ll continue to push organisations and venues to make this a priority.”
Voodoo Events, which runs many of the city's student nights, said: "We are aware of the rise in the number of cases of spikings in the city and across the country.
We absolutely deplore any behaviour like this and understand that it will cause concern amongst the clubbing community.
"But we'd like to reassure people that we, and the venues we work with, already take student safety incredibly seriously and have comprehensive measures in place to protect them.
“From strict search policies, airport style metal arches, body cams, high quality CCTV systems, to private on site medical staff, the venues have highly detailed health and safety protocols in place.
“We know that one spiking in any venue is one spiking too many so we'll be engaging with local law enforcement, our partner agencies (Forward Leeds and Safety Leeds), the student union's and all our customers to try and improve things further as we want our customers, and the wider clubbing community to feel safe to enjoy our events."
Bars and clubs in the city have backed the Girls Night In campaign and announced measures they will take to protect people’s safety.
Przym nightclub, in Woodhouse Lane, said it will increase searches in the coming weeks and will be providing anti-spiking devices that can be ordered at the bar.
It added that its teams are trained on the issue of drink spiking and that there is a qualified first aider on site.
HiFi club, in Central Road, and Wire, in Call Lane, said that both their security teams have been briefed to carry out more searches and that the clubs are awaiting deliveries of drink covers that will be available to customers free of charge.
The clubs both added that anyone caught spiking drinks will be banned for life and handed over to the police.
Space nightclub, in Hirst's Yard, said: “Like many others in our industry we have been extremely worried about a recent rise in the reports of drinks spiking and other such vile acts.
“We remain strongly intent on improving the safety of our customers & workers alike and will be working closely with local authorities and other members of our industry to ensure everyone feels safe at all Leeds venues.
“It is not and will not be tolerated.”
Mint Warehouse has added more security staff and female door supervisors and is looking to introduce body worn cameras as an extra deterrent.
In a statement, the Water Lane club said: “We have been disturbed by recent publications that highlight a recent rise of spiking in nightclubs and bars within Leeds and across the UK,
“At MiNT, we stand united and committed to making it a safe space for everyone.
It continued: “We continue to utilise the Leeds Bacil Radio so we can be in constant contact with other venues. Security and staff proactively search and look out for any signs of suspicious behaviour.
“If you think you may have had a drink spiked or think that something is suspicious, please make a member of staff aware. We have both security & bar staff trained in first aid and full CCTV around the venue.
“Anyone caught spiking drinks will be handed over to the police.
“Please stay safe, stay vigilant and look after one another.”
How to know if you have been spiked:
The symptoms of drink spiking vary depending on what you’ve been spiked with.
'Date-rape drugs' like Rohypnol and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate can be odourless, colourless and tasteless.
They also leave the body within a short amount of time making them hard to detect.
Recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine and other ‘party-drugs’ are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks, according to Drink Aware.
The symptoms of drink spiking include; slurred speech, visual problems, confusion, nausea, vomiting, loss of balance, lowered inhibitions and unconsciousness.