Spikings are ‘horrifying’ say students as London nightclubs face new boycott tonight

·4-min read
Members of UCL’s netball team at their ‘Girls Night In’ last week (Ophelia Lieng)
Members of UCL’s netball team at their ‘Girls Night In’ last week (Ophelia Lieng)

Students in London have admitted they feel “in danger” amid a spate of spiking incidents as they prepare to boycott bars and nightclubs on Friday.

International relations student Julia Aneta, the events officer at King’s College London’s Women and Politics Society, said students were “horrified” by incidents of drugs being put into drinks and more recently injected into victims’ bodies.

“When the reports of spiking first emerged, I felt in danger,” she said. “I could feel the levels of anxiety raising among the women and girls on campus.

“We want to shift the narrative against victim-blaming. We should be going after the perpetrators of spiking, not the victims.”

Ella Mansell, a 22-year-old King’s College literature student, is one of the victims of spiking to have spoken out. In the week she was targeted, 15 other students reported similar incidents at the university.

The Night In campaign, which began in Edinburgh last week and quickly spread to universities nationwide, has seen students boycott clubs and other venues to highlight the need for better protection for women from spiking.

Students in sports clubs and societies will today shun a night out to again raise awareness. The Women and Politics Society at King’s will host a social on campus this evening to discuss safeguarding and “show solidarity” against spikings.

Ms Aneta said: “It’s frustrating we can’t enjoy ourselves on nights out or have fun with our friends. We have to take extra precautions just to make sure that we survive the night.”

Psychology student Ophelia Lieng, the president of University College London’s Netball Club, organised a boycott of several clubs last Wednesday.

Instead of going to hotspots Loop or Phineas, the netball team went to a restaurant. “It was actually really fun,” Ms Lieng, 20, said.

UCL Netball Club (pictured) are one of a number of sports societies who took part in last week’s boycott (Ophelia Lieng)
UCL Netball Club (pictured) are one of a number of sports societies who took part in last week’s boycott (Ophelia Lieng)

Her group chose the Wednesday as it was UCL’s biggest night out of the week — putting maximum pressure on clubs to change policies.

Netball team members donated the £5 they might have spent on a nightclub ticket to The Survivor’s Trust, a charity which supports women, men and children who have been victims of rape and other sexual violence.

“The stories of girls being spiked are horrible,” Ms Lieng said. “In the past two years, most freshers and second year students have never been clubbing — you want to have a good time but it constantly stresses you out.

“It’s been swept under the rug in the past because it’s often been framed as a woman’s problem. People have said: ‘well it’s your fault if you put your drink down and don’t come back to it.’”

The team have been in talks with nightclubs about how to improve safety. Policies they have suggested include lids for drink cups and more thorough searches of bags and coats on entry.

Ms Lieng also called on clubs to train bouncers in how to deal with spiking incidents.

“Regardless of whether someone has been spiked or is just too drunk, no one should be kicked out and made to find their own way home,” she said.

“We want to see bouncers approach one of their friends instead and make sure they get back safely.”

Alongside steps that nightclubs and bars can take, Ms Aneta said fundamental societal changes are needed to protect women.

She urged universities across the UK to take binge drinking culture on campus and misogyny more seriously.

She said: “Heavy drinking is common in sports societies, and this behaviour has been normalised for quite a long time.

KCL Women and Politics society members at an event (KCL Women and Politics Society)
KCL Women and Politics society members at an event (KCL Women and Politics Society)

“We are now having a conversation about spiking but it needs to go further. Universities have to take more concrete measures and introduce welfare training on how to deal with the perpetrators of spiking and how to help victims.”

Friday’s boycott comes after police investigating nightclub needle-spiking in Sussex made their first arrest.

The National Police Chiefs Council recently said there have been at least 56 “confirmed reports” of some form of injection spiking in the last two months - including at least 12 incidents in Nottinghamshire and seven in seaside towns from Brighton to Eastbourne.

A spokesperson for the UCL students union told the Standard: “Everyone deserves to feel safe on a night out, and the rise in spiking cases reported across the UK has understandably left our community feeling nervous, unsafe and angry.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve listened to student leaders from our clubs and societies and heard testimony from individual students – from this feedback we’ve developed a set of new initiatives which are being rolled out across our venues over the coming days and weeks as we work towards becoming the safest night out in London for our members.”

Read More

Sabina Nessa funeral: Family demands more action on women’s safety

Covid latest: Which London boroughs have lowest and highest rates?

Met warns London could see record number of teenage killings this year

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting