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University responds to national and local rise in drink spiking

Universities, the Police, students and the Council are to coordinate a city-wide response to fears over night time safety

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Image Credit: John Husband

Content warning: This article covers sensitive content relating to sexual violence.

The University has outlined their response to the ongoing concerns surrounding the safety of young people in nightclubs this afternoon.

In an email representing the student community's elected representatives, university leaders and partners across the city, Vice-Chancellor Charlie Jeffrey acknowledged the growing concern around cases of spiking both in York and nationally.

The University and its related associations are working to combat spiking in three areas; on-campus, off-campus and city-wide. On campus across the different YUSU bars a series of informal campaigns, including helpful tips on how to stay safe on a night out and recognise the signs of spiking, are being introduced.

YUSU bars and the Women and Non-binary network have implemented a spiking awareness campaign to make spikeys, bottle toppers, widely available. The officers have created a blog which highlights the signs of spiking, where to get help and how to report it.

'Ask for Angela', a well known campaign, is also being expanded beyond University venues and into the city. Those who feel unsafe or at risk can ask venue staff for ‘Angela’ and seek help.

In York itself , Nightsafe will provide instant support through a range of resources looking at the effects of spiking. They help to put student safety first and are on hand to help during the four weekly YUSU organised club nights.

The University has a Student Safety Policy in place in collaboration with StreamLine taxis meaning that, if you don’t have enough money to get a taxi home after a night out, you can show a valid student ID card, giving you the option to pay the next day meaning no one is left stranded and unsafe.

In terms of the city-wide response, the University have said they are in contact with licensed venues and are working with the Council and North Yorkshire Police to ensure venues are aware of their responsibility when it comes to protecting students. The conversations are said to be ongoing and will continue in the next few weeks.

Venue staff are being trained by North Yorkshire Police who are delivering WAVE (Welfare and Vulnerability Engagement) training in order to prevent and reduce vulnerability and sexual abuse at night and beyond.

The email closed by reminding students of the many forms of spiking. While the most recognised forms remain spiking drinks using drugs and spiking by injection, spiking can also mean adding alcohol to non-alcoholic drinks and deceiving people into believing a triple shot of alcohol is a single. Students are reminded that spiking is a crime in itself and will not be tolerated in venues.

York students can report incidents to the University, using contact details or anonymously using the Report + support tool. Students are also encouraged to report spiking to the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency situation.

The email jointly signed by:  Patrick O’Donnell (YUSU President) , Kelly Balmer (Community and Wellbeing Officer),Viviane Cao (York Graduate Students’ Association President), JiaYing Tan (YGSA Vice-President Community and Wellbeing), Charlie Jeffrey (Vice-Chancellor), Tracy Lightfoot (PVC for Learning, Teaching and Students) and Mark Khan ( Senior Operational Commander for North Yorkshire Police) said:

"Ensuring the safety of all York students is our absolute priority and we would like to assure you we are working swiftly, in collaboration with key members of the city, to address the concerns raised . We want to ensure a fully joined up, city-wide response which includes students, universities, licensed venues, Police and the Council working together to actively address issues."

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