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We all deserve a safe night out

With a rise in reports of spiking across the UK and student campaigns and concerns on this issue, we recognise the importance of increasing awareness, reigniting the conversation and recognising the changes we still need to make. We are committed as your Students’ Union and a night time venue to continue to campaign for lasting change to ensure that all of our students feel safe to enjoy a night out in the Guild and in the city.

A person’s drink can be spiked to make them more vulnerable for a variety of reasons, including theft, sexual assault or as an attempted joke. It is illegal to spike someone’s drink and the maximum sentence for someone found guilty of spiking is 10 years in prison. The responsibility for these incidents lies solely with the perpetrators. Everyone has the right to feel safe on a night out. It is not your fault if you have been spiked on a night out.

The symptoms of drink spiking will not be the same in everyone, but will vary depending on the substance used, (including the dose), your size and weight, and how much alcohol you have already consumed.

It’s important that you feel able to recognise potential symptoms of spiking:

High doses of some drugs used to spike drinks can cause problems with your muscles, a coma (a very deep unnatural sleep) and death.

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Loss of balance
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion, especially the next day or after waking up
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

Given the recent increase in reports of incidents, we also want to share the following advice for those of you who are going on nights out which may help you and your friends feel more secure:

  • Have a conversation with your friends about how you act when you are drunk and what your limits are. This will help them spot when you are acting unexpectedly.
  • Keep an eye on your drinks and do not drink from glasses that have been left unattended or you haven’t seen being prepared.
  • Be cautious of anyone you don’t know if they offer you a drink. Do not accept any drinks you haven’t seen being prepared.
  • Keep an eye on your friends, their behaviour and where they are. If you notice anything abnormal, reach out for support.
  • If you suspect a drink has been spiked tell a member of the bar or security team as soon as possible. You should also report the incident to the police. If you feel unwell, seek medical advice and stay with someone you know in a safe place.
  • If you are at a house party and think you have been spiked, where possible try to tell someone and ask them to help you access medical attention before finding a safe space.

An active bystander has the knowledge and skills that mean they are confident in intervening to stop or diffuse a situation that they know is wrong. Statistics show that the more people who are confident in intervening the fewer incidents of bullying, harassment and violence take place. Active bystanders help to create a community culture where victims feel supported and incidents of harassment are not tolerated.

Here are the ways you can intervene safely as an active Bystander

Direct intervention

Direct intervention is directly intervening to diffuse a situation. Examples of this include:

  • Telling someone making racially harassing comments to stop
  • Contacting someone who is posting inappropriate content on a chat and letting them know their behaviour will not be tolerated

Distract intervention

Distract intervention is distracting those involved to take their attention from the situation. Examples of this include:

  • Starting up a conversation with someone being harassed and ignoring the harasser
  • Changing the subject in a discussion

Delegate intervention

Delegate intervention is contacting someone in a position to manage the situation. Examples of this include

  • Speaking to security personnel at train stations or on public transport
  • Contacting your course rep/ society committee team about an issue
  • Calling the police to attend an incident

Delayed intervention

Delayed intervention is supporting a victim after the situation has ended or diffused. This intervention is just as valuable as the other three and can be incredibly impactful for victims of harassment or abuse. Example of this include

  • Offering support; a listening ear, a safe space or even a cup of tea and a smile
  • Helping a victim report a crime
  • Signposting to support available through the University Student Welfare Advice and Guidance or Guild Advice

If you have been spiked or suspect a friend has been spiked, you should take immediate action and directly intervene if you can.

What we’re doing as a venue:

  • Bar staff receive licensing, signposting and drugs training alongside Bystander Intervention to ensure they’re confident in responding if incidents take place. ?
  • Anti-Spiking devices are now available from all our bars for free.
  • Dedicated information in our bars on spiking, further support and how to be an active bystander.
  • Committed to the Best Bar None goal to provide a safer night out for all and is accredited with the Gold Standard Award.
  • Full searches and increased trained medics and first aid responders on site for our large events and live music gigs.
  • Bystander Intervention training available for front facing staff.
  • Oversaw the upskilling of a Guild Adviser into an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser.
  • Working with the University make use of staff with specialist backgrounds e.g. domestic and sexual violence.
  • Over 1000 students received Bystander Intervention training in 2020-21.
  • Fed into development of Report & Support system.
  • Worked with the University to make changes to the student disciplinary system for perpetrators of sexual misconduct
  • Worked closely with city-wide stakeholders and specialist organisations to plan appropriate and sensitive messaging in posters and digital assets
  • Supported the PCC Safer Streets bid – resulting in £270,00 funding for initiatives for women's safety in Liverpool
  • Continuing to work with the University to make changes to the student disciplinary system for perpetrators of sexual misconduct.
  • Planning activity for Sexual Violence Awareness Week on campus.
  • Rolling out Bystander Training to wider student groups and working with the University to ensure there is effective consent training in place.
  • Working with local authorities and the city’s night-time economy to make necessary changes to nights out in the city.
  • Highlighting the support available at the Guild, University and wider community available to all students.


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