Students are being warned of the dangers of spiking after recent incidents were brought to the Students’ Union’s attention in which students reported being the victims of drink spiking.
Heading the awareness campaign, Welfare Officer Lloyd Harris said, “Although these incidents have been isolated and few-in-number, the seriousness of the situation warrants a response.”
Quick to act, the Union have ordered 5000 anti-drink spiking ‘Spikey’ devices which can be picked up in any university venue which sells alcohol, such as as JC’s and Divas and have worked closely with partnership venues on Wind Street to ascertain that ‘Spikey’ devices can also be used at off-campus locations .
Spikey devices are inserted into the bottle neck and create a seal to prevent illegal substances being dropped into the bottle. A small hole for a straw to be inserted allows the customer to consume his/her drink without concern for his/her safety.
The design does not allow for easy removal of either the device or the straw to prevent tampering and its luminous colouring warns others that the bottle is protected.
Having been brought to the attention of the Union that ‘Spikey’ devices are only effective with bottled drinks, the Union has also ensured that plastic lids are available for drinks sold in a cup or glass.
History student, Carlie Andrews says she has been a victim of spiking twice; once during arrivals week in Tooters and once this past March.
Carlie said, “Both times I felt dizzy at the beginning and then all I remember is blacking out. I can’t remember what happened after getting spiked. I behaved completely differently to what I normally do when I’m just drunk though, I wasn’t myself at all.”
The second time I got spiked I was with my boyfriend and his friends. Apparently I was going into shock, had street wardens attending me and being sick repeatedly. I do not remember any of this.
My boyfriend’s mother is a nurse and sat up with me all night making sure I was ok. Looking back, I wish I did go to hospital as the side effects affected me all week. I was really ill and didn’t feel right in myself.
When I spoke to one of my friends who believes she got spiked as well, she experienced the same effects as I did and was very ill for days after it.”
Most date rape drugs take effect within 15-30 minutes and symptoms usually last for several hours. Some of the most common symptoms are; difficulty concentrating or speaking, loss of balance and finding it hard to move, visual problems (particularly blurred vision), nausea, vomiting and memory loss (amnesia) or “blackouts”.
Often these symptoms can be assimilated to those experienced by someone who has consumed too much alcohol and can make it difficult for friends of the victim to identify that someone has been spiked.
Carlie said, “You don’t realize you have been spiked, especially after you have been drinking because you think it is just the effect of the alcohol.”
This can mean that victims are accused of drinking too much rather than being spiked and are left feeling isolated and afraid to report for fear they will not be believed.
Carlie did not report her suspicions, “I felt that no one would take me seriously at the time, just like the people I have told who think that I might have drunk too much on a night out. But I know my own body, and this never happens to me on a normal night out.”
Suspected victims of spiking of those who believe they have witnessed a case of spiking should report their suspicions to any bar staff member, bar supervisor, security staff, Students’ Union Officer or Advice and Support Centre staff.
Welfare officer, Lloyd Harris warns students, “drink spiking is often associated with malicious acts including violence, theft and drug-assisted sexual assault. It’s also used for misguided pranks or jokes. It’s important to note that drink spiking is illegal, whether or not a theft or assault has been carried out. “
Those who are found guilty of spiking someone’s drink can result in a sentence of a maximum of 10 years in prison for
anyone who is found guilty. If an assault, rape or robbery has also taken place, the sentence will be even higher.
What measures can students take themselves to prevent being spiked?
Top Tips from Lloyd:
Make sure you see your drink being poured or opened.
Drinking from the bottle? Pick up a coloured
Never leave your drink unattended
Politely decline drinks from strangers
Drink with friends and nominate a ‘drinks watcher’
Don’t share drinks or drink leftovers
Always drink sensibly and know your alcohol limit.