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Spiking – top tips to stay safe

What does spiking mean?

To spike a drink means to put alcohol or drugs into someone's drink without their knowledge or permission. The aim may be to incapacitate someone enough to rob or sexually assault them, although sometimes it is just intended as a joke – a bad joke as it is very dangerous.

There is also some concern at the possibility that people are being ‘spiked’ by needles/syringes containing drugs. Although this is much less likely than drink spiking, many of the same tips for staying safe can protect you here too. Spiking is a criminal offence and venues should take steps to ensure they are safe places to be, but you still need to protect yourself, particularly if you feel unsafe.

Tips to stay safe

  • Plan your night out, including your journey there and back.

  • Make sure the venue you are going to is licensed – venues are required to take steps to ensure the safety of their customers

  • When going to a pub, club or party avoid going alone. Friends can look out for one another.

  • Stay aware of what’s going on around you and keep away from situations you don’t feel comfortable with.

  • Think very carefully about whether you should leave a pub, club or party with someone you’ve just met.

  • Make sure your mobile phone has plenty of charge in it before you leave home and keep your mobile safe.

How to avoid drink spiking?

  • Always buy your own drink and watch it being poured.     

  • Don't accept drinks from strangers.

  • Never leave your drink unattended while you dance or go to the toilet.

  • Don't drink or taste anyone else's drink.

  • Throw your drink away if you think it tastes odd.

What if you think you have been spiked (by drink or needle)?

  • If you start to feel strange, sick or drunk when you know that you couldn’t be drunk, seek help from a trusted friend or the venue management.

  • If you think you have been spiked, get a close friend to get you out of the place as soon as possible and take you home or to hospital (if seriously unwell). Or ring a friend, relative or partner and ask them to come and pick you up.

  • If you feel unsafe, vulnerable or threatened you can ask for help by approaching venue staff and asking them for ‘Angela’. This code-phrase indicates to staff that you need help and a trained member of staff will then support and assist you.

  • Make sure you can trust the person you ask for help. Don’t go anywhere with a stranger or acquaintance.

  • Once you are safely home ask someone to stay with you until the effects of the drug have worn off, which could be several hours.

  • Don’t hesitate to call for medical help if you need it. And do tell the police what happened.

  • If you have been sexually assaulted, you can contact a sexual assault referral centre for support – find your nearest on the NHS website.

    The law

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 states that it is an offence to administer a substance, to a person with intent to overpower that person to enable sexual activity with them. It is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment. This means that slipping alcohol or drugs into someone’s drink is against the law, even if the drink is not consumed or the person is not harmed. The same would be true of needle spiking which would also be a physical assault.

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Help and advice

What to do in an emergency

If you or someone else needs urgent help after taking drugs or drinking, call 999 for an ambulance. Tell the crew everything you know. It could save their life.

What else to do in an emergency