We regularly work with and talk with the many safe spaces, voluntary groups such as Street Pastors and Street Angels, and police forces from across the UK. One thing that many of them are telling us and that we have seen ourselves when working in safe spaces in particular, is that there is a recent increase in people reporting that they have had their drink spiked.
This got us to thinking about what advice we can provide around this topic, and also what tools there are available to help reduce drink spiking and its effects. We decided that having the latest thinking in one place could be really useful to all the people mentioned above but also to the bars, pubs, nightclubs and door staff that very well may be the first people that have the opportunity to spot and deal with drink spiking incidents. Here is a round-up of tips, tools and techniques around the topic of drink spiking.
Partnership working initiatives
Of course, one of the most effective ways to tackle any issue in the night time economy is to engage with all partners to find a solution, including the trade. An initiative launched last week in Plymouth will see drug testing kits issued to licensed premises to enable them to test drinks on site. Response officers will also carry urine testing kits to enable them to secure evidence of any drink spiking that may occur.
It is also essential to ensure that guidance is put together at a local level and training provided to ensure all partners know what to do in the event of a drink spiking or suspected spiking. When training partners, don’t forget about the licensed premises and volunteers in your night-time economy such as Street Pastors, Street Angels and Safe Space volunteers.
Users of the night time economy should also be provided with advice on what to do to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of spiking, as well as what action to take if they suspect they have been spiked, or a friend has. Messages can be communicated through awareness campaigns on social media, through posters and other media by all partners, including licensed premises. Some areas are getting creative over their use of awareness messaging – we have seen liveried ambulances, adverts booked during cinema trailers and huge lighting projections on buildings at night carrying safety messaging.
It is also important to focus messaging on potential spiking perpetrators. Much of the criticism around measures to reduce the likelihood of drink spiking revolves around placing the responsibility on potential victims, rather than offenders. Drink spiking can result in a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, or more if an assault, rape or robbery takes place. This could be a powerful prevention campaign message.
Drug testing kits
From nail varnish to drinks mats, there are several products on the market that test for common date rape drugs. The key here is in the word “common”. No testing kit that we have been able to find tests for every drug that may be used in drink spiking.
The most comprehensive version we have found is the SipChip by Undercover Colors. These little discs can be carried on a keyring or a mobile phone mount. Once a drop of the suspect drink is applied to the chip, in between 30 seconds and three minutes time then one or two lines will appear. Two lines and the drink does not contain the drugs it tests for, one line and one or more of these drugs is present.
The drugs that SipChip tests for include Flunitrazepam, Alprazolam, Diazepam, Midazolam, Oxazepam and Temazepam.
If your area does not operate a Drinkaware Crew scheme, this is a very helpful initiative for all types of vulnerability management. Drinkaware Crew are trained staff working in clubs and venues to help support the welfare and wellbeing of people on a night out.
If you do have this initiative in place, or once you have it in place, your team will have received comprehensive training on all aspects of drink spiking prevention and management.
The #NotInMyDrink campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of drink spiking, to encourage changes in social behaviour, and protect those most at risk.
This initiative is linked to drink spiking test Drink Detective and so is obviously aimed at raising awareness and sales of this tool, but it is a non-profit organisation and has put together some important messages around looking out for those who may be vulnerable to drink spiking, and encourages a community approach to managing this issue. This information may be useful when putting together media campaigns or considering your approach to managing drink spiking in your area.
Please let us know in the comments if you have any other suggestions or ideas – this is one topic that no-one has completely got sewn up as yet, and one that we’re always looking for new ways to tackle.
If you need support on issues such as drink spiking, we’d be really happy to help. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free 30 minute phone consultation.