Recently there has been a disturbing slew of social media posts gaining attention; namely girls across the UK sharing stories of how they have been spiked via injection in nightclubs. Whilst spiking a drink (often with gamma hydroxybutyrate or ‘GHB’, also known as known as ‘date rape’) is a well-known, nefarious act, the idea of having an unknown substance directly injected into one’s body seems more personal, and a lot more terrifying to many.
Several Twitter and Facebook posts have appeared in the past week from those claiming this has happened to them in several prominent Nottingham nightclubs, and so in order to promote the safety of our users, Groubook has compiled a list of things that everyone (of all ages and genders) can do to protect themselves when clubbing with friends.
1. Organise your transport in advance
This is relevant for arriving and leaving the club – it may be tempting to think ‘I’ll figure it out later’, but deciding how you’re getting to and from your destination early greatly reduces your risk of harm on either journey.
Always try and book a taxi in advance, and make sure it is from a reputable source, such as Uber or a well-known local firm. Familiarise yourself with the safety measures of these services (Uber are particularly good at this) and always check that the number plate matches the one you see on your phone.
If you are getting a lift, make sure it is with someone you know and trust – and never drink-drive (or get in the car with someone who is). It may be a good idea to choose a designated driver from your group who will stay sober and make sure the rest of you get home safely.
If taking the bus, try to do so with a friend if they live in a similar direction to you. It is better not to take a bus if the stop is very far from your house, and you will be travelling alone. It’s always worth spending that little bit extra on a taxi to ensure your safety. If you are bussing it, try and sit on the lower deck, as it is closer to both the driver and the exits, in the event of an incident/emergency.
As a last resort you may decide to walk home if your destination is not very far from your house. In this case, you should never walk alone – this is especially true for females. If you are a university student, there are sometimes club representatives outside who will accompany you home if you live round the corner.
2. Safety in numbers
This was discussed above, but it isn’t only relevant when travelling to and from the club: you should try and stick together when inside too. Try and stay with all of the people you came out with, and if you do split into smaller groups, or go to the toilet for example, make sure to let the others know. This will greatly reduce the risk of something happening to you if you wander off alone, and if someone always knows where you are, you are likely to be missed quicker by your friends if something does happen.
No-one likes to check their phone constantly on a night out, but if you or someone in your group isn’t with the others, try and keep an eye on your messages in case they are trying to reach you. It’s all about being aware of your circle.
3. Watch where you’re going
This also relates to the first point regarding walking home from the club or bus stop, or even walking between venues.
Ensure you remain in well-lit areas with CCTV coverage if possible (main roads, high streets etc rather than back alleys and unlit parks). This is especially important if walking alone, although you should avoid walking alone where possible, but should be followed when walking together too.
The short cut may be quicker, but the long route is safer! People are less likely to trouble you if you are in an area where there are people are walking around, CCTV cameras watching, and good lighting.
4. Drink carefully
Make sure to always drink in moderation. This doesn’t mean don’t have fun – it simply means you should never get so drunk that you don’t know what is going on around you, or where you are. Know your limits – you’ll save yourself a terrible hangover, and maybe even from something much worse.
In addition to this, make sure to watch your drink at all times. It is easier than you might think to slip drugs or more alcohol into someone’s glass when they are not paying attention, and this could be very dangerous if it happens to you.
If you do feel as though you are too drunk to stay out, tell a trusted friend who you came with, and make sure they help you get home by calling you a taxi, or leaving with you. It’s tempting to ‘back door it’ and leave without telling anyone sometimes when you feel like you’ve had one too many, but you’re already in a vulnerable state like this. Trying to get home alone is dangerous. If you have lost your friends then speak to a member of staff, or a doorman, who will be able to help you.
5. Watch what you bring
Being spiked is not the only danger on a night out though, and you should try and protect yourself from all threats.
We all have that girlfriend who has everything but the kitchen sink in their handbag at all times. This can be handy, but on a night out it can also be unnecessary, and can leave you at greater risk of being robbed or mugged. Pack lightly, and leave any very expensive jewellery at home.
Keep all valuables such as phones and wallets/purses zipped up in bags. If you are drunk and waving them around, you become an easier target. 6. Don’t be a hero
It’s easy to feel like Superman when you’ve had a few drinks and you are with your friends, but if you stumble upon a fight or similar situation between people you did not come out with, you should stay away. Don’t try and step in to help; you should either call a bouncer, or leave the individuals to resolve it themselves.
The same goes for a very violent situation between your friends. If you feel as though you can talk down the situation then give it a go, but if a fight has broken out, a bouncer should be called for help.
If you find yourself in a situation where someone/a group are being openly hostile towards you directly, again try to call a staff member for help. If this is not possible and you feel as though you are in danger, call 999.
As you can see, this list focuses on a range of dangers a person may face when out drinking at night time, and following these steps may save you a trip to the police station, or a hospital. Many people believe that only females should be concerned about the above, and that ‘these things do not happen to men’, but this is not the case. People of all genders can come to harm on a night out. Whilst girls are statistically more likely to be spiked, men are actually more likely than women to have aggression asserted towards them, or violence acted upon them at night. In order to truly combat the issues discussed above, the onus should be on the criminals to cease their behaviour, rather than on the victims to prevent or minimise harm. It is always good to stay safe, and not to put oneself in unnecessarily risky situations, but those with a higher chance of victimhood should not have to modify their night significantly to protect themselves. More needs to be done by the hospitality industry and the government to prevent drink spiking and other common problems. If you feel you have been spiked, you should tell both a friend and the nearest member of staff immediately. Some symptoms of having been spiked are as follows:
Loss of balance / inability to stand up properly
Issues with vision / being unable to see clearly (blurry or black spots)
Confusion (not knowing who or where you are)
Nausea or vomiting
Nights out are so much fun, and with the right precautions, you can have some of the best times of your life. Just make sure to keep the above in mind when you’re planning your next big blowout. Stay safe, Groubook