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Spiking in the City and Asking for Angela

What is Spiking?

Spiking’ in an invasive criminal offence and is when someone puts alcohol or drugs into another person’s drink or their body without their knowledge and/or consent. This crime can be part of a plan for a wider offence, for example; sexually assault, rape, physical assault to robbery in some cases. No matter what the victim had been drinking/taking/wearing that night, their consumption has no involvement in the crime what they are wearing certainly does not invite this activity. The shame is aligned directly with the perpetrator and is 100% their responsibility.

Forms of spiking

  • Injection - this can lead to a risk of infection from the needle (although the chances are low), a risk of transmission of HIV (0.23% estimation) - make sure you go to hospital and get this checked out.

  • Substances being put in drinks - this can be a liquid, powder, or pill and it can often be hard to identify if your drink has been tampered with by smell, taste or visual appearance.

How to recognise that your drink has been spiked

  • If the drink is; fizzing, bubbling, foggy, flakes at the bottom (has to be spotted spotted straight away), if it tastes salty, unusual smells.

  • The common date rape drug called rohypnol has now been modified. This means that if it is placed in your drink it will turn the liquid blue.

  • Symptoms usually kick in around 15-30 minutes after it has entered your system. These symptoms can include: feeling drunk, woozy or drowsy, feeling “out of it” or drunker than what would be expected, confusion, speech difficulties, memory loss, loss of inhibitions, nausea and vomiting, breathing problems, muscle spasms or seizures, loss of consciousness, a severe hangover when you had little/ no alcohol to drink.

How to keep safe

Never leave your drink unattended and keep an eye on your friends' drinks and don't accept a drink from someone you don't know. Moreover, consider sticking to bottled drinks instead of larger fishbowls this will mean your drink is more protected. Also, avoid taking expensive items with you or anything that could be a target for thieves.

Do not give your address out to anyone you don't know or trust.

If you think your drink has been tampered with, don't drink it, instead tell a member of staff alongside a trusted friend or relative immediately, make sure you have trusted company.

Before going out, let someone know where you're going and what time you expect to be home and ensure you have a planned way of getting home so you aren't left waiting on the streets in the cold surrounded by people you don't know at the end of a night.

If you are abroad and this happens to you, be aware of the area and where you can find help, and also have trusted friends around you.

Leeds Girls Night In

This social media campaign was the headline news in Leeds in October, stating spiking is unacceptable and demanding nightclubs take action, so that we can reclaim the night. Their Instagram, linked above, gives further details on how to watch out for spiking, how to protect yourself against it and what to do if you are affected. Just recently, it was reported that 19% of spiking in Leeds was performed by injection which I know scares a lot of people as it scares me, however we are making a difference and this will be changed.

Moreover, they have information on each nightclub's response to this serious issue and how they plan on making their spaces safer for all individuals of all genders.

P.S. I do suggest buying a drink cap cover in case the club does not offer these - they're very cheap and often found on Amazon!

On the 27th October there was a boycott of clubs in which everyone remained at home and a Netflix party was organised by Leeds Girls Night In. This was done to raise awareness to of the crime and ensure all clubs felt the effects and therefore made changes to how they run their events. Only 10% of individuals stated they were happy with how the venue dealt with the incident of spiking. Therefore, there is a lot of work to be done as we deserve to feel unthreatened and safe on a night out.

Many university cities took part in this boycott with Girls Night In Nottingham initiating this movement. BBC Radio and many different news channels supported this movement and helped in the strive for change.

Many individuals were encouraged to come forward, some anonymously, safely and with support. These voices made an immense impact on the nation's attitude to the issue and has aided in making our cities safer. Show your support by following Leeds Girls Night In and similar accounts.

Linked below is another Instagram account that publishes monthly spiking reports to track how spiking is affecting our society and whether these changes, such as bag checks, drink caps and more security are effective.

Ask for Angela

'Ask for Angela' is a scheme set up by Leeds City Council who are working with Women Friendly Leeds and many venues across Leeds in hopes to make our city a safer place for everyone. Posters, such as the one below, are often displayed in the bathrooms, and by asking for 'Angela', to any member of staff they will immediately understand you are in danger, feel threatened or unsafe and uncomfortable. This is done discreetly and often what happens is trained staff offer you help by providing a safer space for you, contacting your friends or calling you an Uber/taxi home.

All staff are trained and all help is given professionally, without judgment, and with discretion, so if you ever do feel unsafe always 'Ask for Angela'.

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