An investigation has been launched into another incident in which a woman said she was attacked with a needle inside a nightclub.
Devon and Cornwall Police said a woman reported being assaulted in Fever & Boutique in Exeter on Saturday October 16.
It follows reports of other “spiking” incidents in several parts of the country, including Nottingham, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Devon and Cornwall Police are working with licensed premises across the region following a rise in the concerns surrounding drink-spiking, and women being attacked with needles in bars and nightclubs.
— Devon & Cornwall Police (@DC_Police) October 20, 2021
Superintendent Antony Hart, local commander for Exeter, East and Mid Devon, said it is the only incident of its type that has been reported to police in Devon and Cornwall.
“There has been a lot of media and social media coverage in relation to drink-spiking, plus the understandable fear following a woman being attacked with a needle in a bar in Nottingham,” he said.
“We are investigating an incident in Exeter and progressing inquiries to identify and arrest those responsible.
“Whilst assaults using needles are very rare, we ask that people are vigilant when in crowded spaces and notify premises staff or police of any suspicious behaviour.
“This incident has also raised the wider issue of drink-spiking and what can be done to combat this.
“Women must be able to feel safe across all aspects of their lives and that includes when out socialising.
“Those who think it’s acceptable to assault women, whether that be verbally, subjecting them to physical attacks or by drink-spiking, must be challenged and will be brought to justice where a criminal offence has been committed.
“We are asking for the public to help us to tackle this issue head-on. That means if you have witnessed something suspicious in a bar, then you must report this to door and bar staff immediately.
“We also need people who believe they have been spiked or assaulted to come forward to door staff and the police as soon as possible.
“Not only does this give us the best chance in catching those responsible, but it will also allow us to get medical treatment for the victim at the earliest opportunity.”
The force is making drink testing kits available in bars across Devon and Cornwall and urine testing kits are also available in all police stations to allow officers to obtain evidence.
Following reports of incidents across the country, Home Secretary Priti Patel has asked police forces to assess the scale of the problem.
Groups from more than 30 universities around the UK have joined an online campaign calling for the boycott of nightclubs, with campaigners seeking “tangible” changes to make them safer, such as covers/stoppers for drinks, better training for staff and more rigorous searches of clubbers.
A petition launched last week to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry has already gained more than 120,000 signatures.