After almost two years of pandemic-related restrictions, the world is finally beginning to open back up.
The UK has been in and out of lockdowns, and we’ve all been forced to stay indoors. But when things finally started to open up a couple of months ago, we were all ready to start living our lives once again. Thousands of young women in the UK were ready to resume their social lives and start enjoying their weekend nights out once again.
Unfortunately, this enjoyment was short-lived as multiple cases of spiking were reported within just a few weeks of the nightclub’s reopening. And this didn’t just involve the spiking of drinks, which had been a long-standing issue for women in public and private nightclubs. It also involved needle spiking.
What Are Spiking Injections and Who is Affected By Them?
Spiking injections, also known as needle spiking, occur when an attacker injects an unsuspecting victim with drugs using a needle.
Within a two-month period across September and October, almost 200 spiking cases were reported to the police. This was alongside 24 reports of people being spiked with some form of injection.
Although these reports were filed by both men and women, police confirmed that the majority of cases involving young women. These incidents were not just isolated to just nightclubs. Cases were reported in public licensed premises as well as at private events across multiple areas of the UK.
Why Are Spiking Injections a Cause for Concern?
These spiking incidents are a huge cause for concern. Women in the UK are already faced with their own challenges and this only adds an extra concern to their list. As of this year, over one-third of women have been spiked themselves or they know somebody who has been spiked.
Women reported feeling a small, painful prick somewhere on their body, after which they blacked out. Many people also reported losing their memory and having no idea what happened to them after the injection.
Sadly, some of the spiking injections led to the victims being hospitalised for treatment. Some victims ended up losing their balance, becoming confused or vomiting for days after the attacks.
Of course, it’s not just the physical side effects of being spiked that women have to experience. There is also the lasting emotional trauma that comes along with such a scary experience. This trauma can remain with them for years to come and it can seriously affect their lives.
Although no spiking-related fatalities have been reported as of yet, there is always a risk of something going terribly wrong when a woman is spiked with a cocktail of unknown substances. We are not just talking about people’s safety. We are talking about people’s lives.
A 20-year-old student who is on anti-depressants said that she could have died after getting her drink spiked. Different drugs can interact with one another, causing a lethal outcome. If somebody happens to take regular medication, there’s no predicting how this medication would react with a mixture of other drugs if they got spiked on a night out.
In September, violence against women was labelled as an epidemic by Watchdog. This encompasses murder, rape, assault, and spiking. Shockingly, a woman is killed by a man in the UK every three days on average.
Police are currently uncertain as to what the needle spiking drugs of choice seem to be. However, it is suspected that attackers are using the same drugs like those used in drinks spiking.
These drugs include Rohypnol (Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB, also referred to as the ‘date rape’ drug). Other drugs include ecstasy, ketamine, and even Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD).
The victims had flooded to social media to share their experiences and warn others of the potential dangers that are out there. This has led to a flurry of people agreeing that something needs to change once and for all. Women have faced spiking problems for years and things only seem to be getting worse.
An increasing number of women are scared and anxious to go to nightclubs at the moment. Unless the law changes to make public and private venues safer for women, this fear and anxiety is only going to increase.
The question is why is this happening? Why is spiking on the rise?
The answer to this question is largely unknown. You could argue that the reasons for needle spiking are the same as the reasons why people spike drinks. Police don’t currently believe that these attacks are targeted.
What Can Be Done About Needle Spiking?
Since the start of the spiking injection incidents, women across the UK have joined forces to begin an online campaign known as Girls Night In. This campaign aimed to boycott nightclubs during the end of October to bring attention to the increasing concerns for women’s safety. It placed pressure on nightclub owners to put new safety protocols in place for women entering their venues.
In particular, Exeter, Durham, Leeds, Liverpool, Leicester, Cardiff, and Edinburgh were boycotted, with students and young adults in these cities staying at home instead of heading to the clubs.
In reality, it is everybody’s responsibility to stay safe, not just the responsibility of nightclub owners. Men and women should be extra vigilant and report anybody who is acting suspiciously to the security team at the venue.
It’s also important that everybody keeps their drinks covered. Although there has been an increase in needle spiking, drinks spiking is still a potential danger in nightclubs.
More rigorous searches should be conducted by law enforcement or security at every venue. This ensures of that nobody can sneak drugs into the venue.
Another potential option is to encourage women to carry around personal safety alarms that they can use if they feel like they are in danger. However, personal safety alarms may not be very effective against preventing needle spiking because these incidents often occur very quickly and unexpectedly.
There is currently a petition running that is campaigning for nightclubs to have more stringent legal requirements when it comes to searching their guests. This petition aims to reduce the incidence of spiking and help women to feel safer whilst clubbing in their favourite venues.
Since the number of needle spiking incidents peaked during the UK’s 2021 Fresher’s week, universities have also been putting extra measures into place to ensure the safety of their students. Many universities have increased the security and surveillance in and around their buildings. Some have introduced bag searches and random drinks testing in their venues.
If we all come together to implement the necessary safety measures in place, we can create a safer, more enjoyable environment for men and women across the UK. After months of lockdowns, everybody deserves to let their hair down and have fun. This fun shouldn’t be tainted by the worries of being spiked.
It’s not enough to tell women to protect themselves. It’s not enough to avoid taking action and hope that things will improve by themselves. More needs to be done. Even the most careful women are at risk of being spiked whilst enjoying a night out with their friends.
The police need to start taking every spiking report seriously and conducting the necessary investigations to try and find the perpetrators of these attacks.
Many women have reported feeling like their reports were not taken seriously by the police, and this is concerning. A 26-year-old woman said she set gaslighted by police after trying to verify that she got spiked in a pub. Gaslighting refers to when somebody manipulates another person into thinking that they’re wrong about something, even when they are right.
The 26-year-old victim said that more training needs to be implemented for bar staff so they can spot potential attackers more easily. She also mentioned that tests and bottle caps should be made available in bars and nightclubs to tackle the increasing spiking problems.
If women feel that their reports won’t be taken seriously, they are less likely to come forward if they’ve been attacked. This leads to fewer investigations and convictions, and only perpetuates the spiking problem.
Only a couple of men have been arrested up to date, despite there being hundreds of filed reports of spiking. Two men were arrested in relation to a spiking attack against a 19-year-old girl who was out clubbing with her friends in a city centre as part of their Fresher’s week.
Understandably, it can be difficult to identify attackers when there are hundreds of individuals entering and leaving venues every night. Needles are so fine and small that they can easily be sneaked into a nightclub past security. It becomes especially difficult when the victims have experienced memory loss and are unable to give a detailed report of what happened.
If you suspect that you or somebody you know has been spiked, you must first seek medical treatment and file a report with the police as soon as you can.