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The start of the Summer term saw Equality, Welfare and Diversity officers tackle the drink-spiking issue head-on by sending ‘spike ninjas’ into the Sugarhouse on Friday of Week One.
Initially, the idea had been to open revellers’ eyes to the need for vigilance whilst drinking on a night out by having the ninjas slip special cocktail stirrers into unattended or unguarded drinks – even if right under the nose of the drinker. The stirrers, branded with the familiar ‘Easy Tiger’ logo and bearing the statement, “I didn’t spike your drink…but I could have!” were designed to send a clear message to students that a lack of attention may have dangerous consequences. However, in the event, the stirrers were handed to students who could have found themselves falling victim to opportunistic spiking and, in order not to cause any alarm or distress, students were made aware that this campaign would be going on throughout the night.
EWD officers were on hand to talk to people queuing for entry to the nightclub, and to hand out special Spikey bottle-stoppers for use as a practical means to stop drink-spiking.
However, a larger problem remains the issue of drink-spiking with alcohol. Rosalia O’Reilly, Vice President (Equality, Welfare and Diversity), emphasised the fact that many spiking incidents are so-called ‘friendly’ spikes, which are intended either as a joke or as a way to liven up the victim’s night on their behalf. Many of those who engage in this behaviour may not even be aware that they are committing an offence, or that what they are doing is classed as drink-spiking. O’Reilly stated:
“Just making people aware that, if they add alcohol to friends’ drinks, or buy them stronger drinks than they were expecting, this is spiking, may actually deter people and reduce the number of spiking incidents occurring in Lancaster.”
The message of drinks-safety and vigilance against spiking is to be followed up this Tuesday, Week Two, by a day of campaigning in Alexandra Square. There will be competitions – some based on spiking-related statistics – run in conjunction with LUSU’s Purple card, as well as opportunities to speak to EWD officers about drink-spiking and what is being done to tackle it.