As part of a national movement aimed at raising awareness of the issue and calling for more to be done to safeguard people on nights out, Sheffield students are set to boycott clubs on Wednesday, October 27.
What is the ‘Girls Night In’ movement?
'Girls Night In' groups have been formed across the country amid a surge in reported incidents of drinks being spiked and even people being ‘injected’ on nights out by others wanting to take advantage.
Dozens of student groups across Sheffield’s universities will be taking part in the protest, letting businesses know that they need to do more to ensure that everyone can enjoy their nights out safely.
Megan John, chairwoman of the Sheffield Hallam Lacrosse Club, said: “We hope to raise awareness of such a growing and concerning issue around the spiking of drinks and the injection of drugs.
“Individually, we cannot do a lot to prevent this occurring. However, as a team we can stand up to this.
“We hope to educate men and women around us, and for clubs and events to take more actions.”
Sharing the frustration is Tom Tonner, club captain for the University of Sheffield Table Tennis Club.
He said: “The table tennis club and many others think more can and should be done to prevent and handle the recent spiking incidents.
“Though the Students’ Union have taken some actions in response to the dramatic increase of spiking and sexual harassment in clubs in Sheffield, they have missed some very easy to implement changes, such as bag checks and mandatory drink covers.”
Ariana Croke, secretary of the Sheffield Hallam Equestrian Club, added: “The equestrian team will be taking part in the boycott of clubs as we worry for the safety of our members when out in bars and clubs across the city due to the rise in spikings across both the country and the city of Sheffield.
“We want to make a stand and show that something needs to be done about it.”
Other groups taking part in the boycott include the squash, boxing, tennis, and ski clubs at The University of Sheffield, as well as the climbing, golf and sociology clubs at Sheffield Hallam University.
What measures have been introduced at The Foundry in Sheffield to prevent drink spiking and injecting?
In response to spiking concerns, the Foundry club in the University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union building on Western Bank, said: “We are aware that there have been several drink spiking incidents in Sheffield recently. Although this is rare in our venues, we would like to reassure students of our commitment to ensuring everyone can have a safe night out.
“In response to the recent incidents, we will take additional security measures in our venues in order to keep our members safe.”
People will be searched upon entry, drinks covers will be made available at its bars, security staff can test drinks if anyone suspects they may have been spiked and random tests of unattended drinks will be carried out.
CCTV also operates throughout the venue.
Bosses added: “If you see anything suspicious in our venues, please let our security team know straight away. We urge anyone who thinks their drink might have been spiked to report it. If you, or someone you know, has their drink spiked in our SU then you can report it immediately to a member of staff on the night.
“Spiking someone's drink is illegal and the maximum sentence if found guilty is 10 years in prison. Anyone caught spiking a drink in our venues will be banned and reported to the police.
“The responsibility lies solely with the perpetrators, and it is not your fault if you have your drink spiked on a night out. Our priority is to keep our community safe and identify the people responsible. However, given the recent increase in incidents, we also want to share the following advice for students who are going on nights out in the city which might help to keep yourself and your friends safe – do not lose sight of your drink on a night out, don’t take a drink that you haven’t seen being prepared and don’t drink it if it’s been left unattended.
“Be cautious if a stranger offers you a drink, and if you accept a drink offer, go with them to the bar to see it being prepared.
“Keep an eye on your friends and keep track of where everyone is.
“If you feel unwell, seek medical advice and stay with someone you know in a safe place.
“If you suspect your drink, or your friends, has been spiked then tell the bar, club, or venue as quickly as possible.
If you think your drink was spiked recently in our venue and you haven’t reported it, please send an email to [email protected] so that we can investigate the incident further. We have a high standard of CCTV in our venues which we will be able to examine. Reporting will help South Yorkshire police to identify linked incidents in the city and find those responsible.”
What has Sarah Champion said about drink spiking and injecting?
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion described the rise in spiking in clubs as ‘terrifying’.
She said: “The rise in girls and young women being spiked in clubs across the country is terrifying. Not only are women having their drinks spiked, but they are now being injected with illegal substances causing them serious harm, ending up in hospital and facing serious danger from further violence.
“I have asked the Government what they are doing to address these concerning trends and I hope they will work constructively to ensure the safety of all people.
“The victims of these attacks are primarily young women at university, and this is yet another example of violence against women and girls which needs urgently tackling.
“Women should be able to go out and enjoy a night without fear of being injected with unknown substances and being exploited.
“Women should not have to take safety precautions before going on a night out.
“Women should not be scared of being assaulted and attacked when going clubbing.
“We should be focused on preventing the harmful attitudes in men which leads to them committing these offences. We also need to ensure we listen to students about what they want to see to increase their safety so that they can enjoy their time at university without traumatic incidents taking place. Whether that means more security searching people on their way into clubs or more CCTV, I will urge the Government to listen and enact the measures necessary to protect young women.”