St John Ambulance expands services in Leeds after reports of spiking by injection

St John Ambulance is expanding its late-night treatment sites in towns and cities in the run-up to Christmas in response to hundreds of reports of injection spiking incidents.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 2:31 pm

The charity said it will set up safe spaces for revellers for the first time in Leeds and Nottingham and hopes to roll out to 40 locations by the end of the year.

It already provides services in Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Norwich.

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The charity said it will set up safe spaces for revellers for the first time in Leeds and Nottingham and hopes to roll out to 40 locations by the end of the year.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said it is continuing to gather responses from all forces across the UK in relation to incidents involving some form of injection.

There were 274 reports of such incident from the beginning of September until November 5, the organisation said.

Deputy Chief Constable Jason Harwin, the NPCC lead for drugs, said: “Police forces are investigating incidents and continue to work with pubs and clubs to increase searches and guidance to staff.

“We will continue to analyse the reports and work with police forces, plus other law enforcement partners including the National Crime Agency and regional organised crime units, as investigations develop to build a problem profile and determine any further action by police or venues.”

He encouraged anyone who thinks they have been a victim of, or witness to, a spiking incident to contact their local police force.

Earlier this month, a parliamentary debate heard a call for spiking with needles in nightclubs to be treated with the same urgency as terrorism, as MPs considered a petition urging the Government to make it law for nightclubs to search guests on arrival to prevent “harmful weapons” entering.

Jade Quittenton, a community operations manager at St John Ambulance, said: “Our night-time economy programme offers safe treatment spaces where St John Ambulance teams provide medical help for revellers seeking help during a night out, and we’re seeing greater demand for our services as more suspected spiking incidents are reported.

“Concerns around the rise in spikings is one of the reasons we’re accelerating the rollout of our support for safer nights out across England.

“Our volunteers can care for anyone who’s worse for wear, sick or injured, and take people to the emergency department if they need that, but we also relieve support on health services by preventing unnecessary hospital admissions.”

St John Ambulance medical director Dr Lynn Thomas has advised people to look out for loss of balance, fatigue, lowering of inhibitions, visual problems, confusion, vomiting and unconsciousness as signs that someone might have been spiked.

The charity’s tips for avoiding being spiked include for people to stay with their friends, look out for each other, not accepting a drink unless they see it poured or opened at the bar, not leaving a drink unattended, and covering their drink with their hand.

If someone feels they or another person has been spiked, they are advised to stay with their friends, let the venue’s bar staff, security team or management know, contact the police, call 999 for an ambulance if there is loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, or abnormal or impaired sight, and use 111 for any other health concerns.

St John Ambulance safe spaces teams provide medical help for people seeking assistance during a night out, with first aiders and healthcare professionals on standby near pubs and clubs.