Students are planning to boycott nightclubs next week amid demands to take spiking seriously as the ‘Girls’ Night In’ campaign gathers pace.
The protests will be held throughout the week. More than 30 universities are boycotting clubs in an effort to force venues to improve safety measures.
More than 130,000 people signed a petition calling for nightclubs to thoroughly search their customers upon arrival after reports of needle-spiking in Nottingham.
It’s 25-year-old Kirsty Whatells sharing a picture from her hospital room after she was spiked. This is when victims are drugged unknowingly either with needles or through their drinks – in Swansea, one evening.
Ilana Elbaz, 20 years old, also recalls how she was left semi-paralysed when she climbed a staircase three weeks ago after returning from a Bristol club.
The Girls’ Night Out campaign will reach 43 universities and cities in the next fortnight.
It was in response to an increase in drinks being’spiked’, and a disturbing trend in which girls are being unknowingly injected drugs.
Victims may have fallen ill while out and only realized they were being injected when they saw ‘pin pricks’ on their bodies.
To raise awareness of the attacks, and to encourage venues to improve security, those who take part in the boycott will stay home on a designated evening.
According to The Alcohol Education Trust’s snap poll, 16% of females, 7% of males, and 17% of those identifying themselves as other have had their drinks spiked.
The survey, which was open for a week from October 12 and had 747 responses, asked: ‘Do you think you have ever had one of your drinks spiked?’, with 94 replying yes and a further 26 saying ‘maybe’.
Ilana Elbaz (pictured above), 20, recalled how she was left semi paralysed on a staircase three weeks ago after returning from a Bristol nightclub. She shared a recording of her boyfriend that shows her struggling to climb the stairs. Her eyes are rolling as her head hits the railings.
Kirsty Howells (25), shared a photo from her hospital bed after she was spiked – when victims are drugged in their sleep via their drinks or physically with needles – in Swansea on one evening
Helena Conibear was the CEO of The Alcohol Education Trust.
“This snap poll of young people confirms all the trends. One in eight young ladies has experienced spiking. It is happening as often at private events as it is at nighttime. Most people don’t report spiking as they fear they will not believe them, are unsure about what happened, or feel that it was too late.
She added: ‘As 50 per cent of cases where drink spiking was reported weren’t followed up, the lack of reporting is perhaps not surprising. If we want to stop drink spiking, we ask that everyone report it to the venue, police, or to A and E.
“Try and keep the drink evidence and ask for blood or urine tests. To anyone thinking it is a joke to spike someone’s drink, can we remind them that it is a serious criminal offence with up to a ten years prison sentence, not to mention the sometimes devastating effect it can have on victims’ lives.’
Emily Bennett, 19, a Manchester University student, is one the leading boycott leaders.
The University of Manchester’s Students Union Liberation and Access Officer added that: “People need to feel safe going outside and people doing the spikings have to know that they won’t be accepted by venues.
“The number and frequency of emails that we have received from students stating that they don’t feel safe or feel safe enough to go out.
The University of Manchester’s Students’ Union spearheaded the boycott.
Zara Owen, a 19-year-old student, told the BBC she believes she was spiked by an injection during a night out in Nottingham.
Ms Owen went black shortly after arriving at a club and later discovered a pin prick in her leg. Andy Burnham spoke to Mike Sweeney, BBC Radio Manchester.
Kirsty (left), who was driving home with her partner, blacked out. She had a seizure and was rushed to A+E where she received an IV and oxygen. Zara Owen, 19, a student from Nottingham, said that she believes she was given an injection after a night out.
He said that it was “completely off the scale.” This is about safety for women and girls. Mike, I know that my daughters have told me about some of the crazy things that happen to them on night outs.
“We thankfully, I checked with GMP haven’t received many reports of this. There were also some in Fallowfield at the time the students returned to university.
“There were five reports of drinks being steamed and we have looked into it.”
Ms. Howells was enjoying a drink in Swansea earlier this month when she was taken unconscious by an unknown substance.
She stated that she was’very shaken’ now and is ‘anxious to go out drinking again anytime soon.
She said that while it might never happen to you, or someone you know it will, it can happen to anyone.
Although Uplands is often viewed as a quieter alternative to Wind Street’s, Kirsty’s ordeal proves that such incidents can occur anywhere.
She said, recalling the night: “I didn’t drink much that evening, maybe four drinks total, and I felt absolutely fine.” I can remember everything until 12:30am, but everything after that is completely hazy.
She was found completely unresponsive, ‘laying face down’ at a table outside the bar.
“Bouncers rang my partner and he came to pick me. I am truly grateful for their help. I don’t know what would have happened if they hadn’t.
Kirsty, along with her partner, blacked out on the way home and suffered a seizure. She was rushed to A+E where she received IV and oxygen.
She said that she remembered seeing her partner and hugging her. I got in the car and then I blacked out completely again.
“My partner said that we were halfway back when I started having a seizure. My body was all tense, my eyelids were rolling back, and my tongue was in my throat making breathing difficult. He took me to the hospital.
“The staff at the hospital were wonderful and put me on an IV drip with oxygen to help me breathe. They also made sure I was comfortable before I left, which I am truly grateful for.
Kirsty told Kirsty that she was the fourth person they have seen in the last two weeks while she was at hospital.
Kirsty reported that hospital staff and police were quick to offer advice and help. They also made her aware that there was a help point in The Strand, just behind Wind Street. This help point provides drink testing strips and sober-up lollies as well as general first aid.
Mair Howells, 22 years old, went out on a night in Peckham (South London) and it quickly turned into a nightmare.
Sarah Buckle (19), a Nottingham student, said that she discovered she was likely spiked via a needle to her hand while out drinking in a nightclub.
Later, she shared a post on Facebook encouraging others to use the service when they are needed. This post has been shared thousands upon thousands of times.
The help point is run jointly by South Wales Police and St Johns Ambulance service and is designed to provide emergency care to those who need it, allowing them to get home safely and reducing pressure on A&E.
Sin City nightclubs have taken action to address the issue. They ordered 12,500 StopTopps anti-spiking lids and implemented a policy that allows anyone who suspects their drink was spiked to receive a replacement free of charge, even if they have not done extensive drinks testing.
Ms Elbaz (pictured), who was spiked at a Bristol nightclub
Similar measures have been taken by other clubs, such as the Bunkhouse music venue. More are expected to follow.
However, there have been widespread calls for the root cause to be addressed and women not forced to take measures to protect themselves. Nightclubs in Wales are being boycotted as a protest against spiking and to demand that safety measures be increased at all venues.
The planned protests follow Ms El-baz, from Richmond, Surrey, sharing a recording filmed by her boyfriend showing her struggling to get up the stairs with her eyes rolling as her head falls into the railings.
The University of Bristol undergraduate gave the BBC permission to broadcast the clip to highlight the dangers of spiking.
The third-year student claimed she believes she was spiked from a fellow clubber, who approached her and asked if she wanted to dance.
She said, “The moment I told him that I was with my boyfriend, he completely left me.” I was completely paralysed when I returned home an hour later.
Ms El-baz is a student of management with innovation. She said that she was ‘lucky’ to have been with her friends.
Calling on clubs to do more to prevent spiking, she said clubs should put lids on drinks – as with takeaway coffee cups – to reduce the risk of them being tampered with. She said, “The fact that they don’t is shocking.”
Ms El-baz spoke up as female students across the nation said they would boycott clubs starting today to protest the number of girls being stabbed on nights out with drugged needles.
Last night, hospitality chiefs responded promising that clubs would ‘double their efforts’ to keep women safe.
Ms Elbaz claimed that she believes she was spiked by a fellow clubber. He approached her and asked her to go dancing
Yesterday, Nottinghamshire Police announced that they were investigating 15 reports of alleged injection-spikings in this month.
West Midlands Police stated that it had received one report in which the circumstances ‘appear like someone having been spiked with injection’.
Many other women claim that they were also spiked in Dundee (Edinburgh), Glasgow (Glasgow), and Liverpool.
The drugs, which are believed be sedatives and make victims more vulnerable to attack, were admitted by police earlier this week.
Numerous injection victims have already spoken out, including Leah Wolstenholme, 18.
Leah Wolstenholme (18), a student, said that she fell ill after a night out and woke up to find a pin-prick mark on her arm.
Karen, Karen’s mother, stated yesterday on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, that the Nottingham Trent student became disoriented and sick while out in London and later found a red pin-prick marks on her wrist.
She described it as “that dreaded calling for a parent” and added:[She]Leah wasn’t. She was not talking and was only scared.
It was a surprise for her. She had heard of it before, but she didn’t expect it to happen to her. It was very scary. It was quite scary.
Molly Robinson (19 years old) claimed that she was spiked at an apartment party just one day after moving to university. BBC Breakfast reported that she had no recollection of the night, which was a frightening and terrifying experience. I can recall making dinner early in the evening, and then it cuts to the morning. That’s all.
She said that she was separated from her friends after she became ‘completely unintelligible’ and fell asleep about an hour later.
“My friends said that the state I was at the time of my last visit and the one I was in when I found them was completely different and inconsistent with the very little alcohol they had consumed earlier in the evening,” she stated.
Miss Robinson stated that she felt’very fragile’ the next morning and ‘physically sick’. She added: ‘I was shaking a lot, and I felt lots different mental emotions.
‘I was very embarrassed – that was my first initial reaction. It was people I just met. The second day after meeting them, they see me in that same state. It is very frightening to think that I did not know what was happening during those hours.
Miss Robinson claimed that she didn’t report what happened because she was still ‘working through it in my mind’.
Over the next week, there will be boycotts in Oxford, Cambridge, York, Manchester, Exeter, and Bristol. Nottingham, Durham, and Edinburgh have also indicated that they will be joining this campaign.
Molly Robinson, 19, claimed that she was also spiked at a party in her flat one day after she moved to university. BBC Breakfast reported that she had no recollection of the night, which was quite terrifying and frightening. I can remember having dinner in the early hours of the evening, and then it cuts to the morning. That’s it.
The Not On My Campus UK group is helping to coordinate the boycotts.
“It impacts students throughout a year, and it is important that we work together, especially in partnership to promote a safer nightlife.
Olivia Raymond, a second-year student from Bristol, said that she would take part in the event. She also stated that she felt like there was a constant threat to her friends and that it was impossible for them to relax and enjoy night outs.
Lottie Adams, a student from Bristol, said that stories of being spiked had wrongly become part the normalised discourse around club culture. This campaign is hoped to change that.
Kate Nicholls was the chief executive of UK Hospitality. This organization represents bars and clubs and condemned the spikings as “despicable and cowardly behavior”.
She added:[It]This is unacceptable and the perpetrators have no place in our venues. We will cooperate with the authorities to find appropriate solutions and expect the police take the appropriate action.
“Hospitality venues already have strict measures in place to ensure the safety of guests and staff, but they will increase their efforts.”
Also, student union venues announced their responses. Random bag searches, safety patrols, and testing of unattended alcohol will be introduced at St Andrews.
Glasgow University’s student bodies also promise tighter security and increased surveillance at their venues.
Sarah Crew, National Police Chiefs’ Council, stated earlier this week that plain-clothed police officers are likely to be deployed in nightclubs throughout the country.