Student designed and informed campaign to #endspiking and promote safer nights out for freshers to be featured at over 80 universities this September
The Alcohol Education Trust (AET) is a youth charity with 13 years of experience supporting young people age 11- 25 to make safer choices around alcohol and drugs. Having given oral and written evidence at The Home Office/House of Commons Inquiry into Drink Spiking in January and following a detailed survey of students in October 2021 when needle spiking hit the headlines, the charity have worked with students and student organisations to create a campaign to end spiking and help students make safer choices.
The DFE have issued guidance this August for tackling drink spiking to universities following the recommendations of a working group that included Universities UK on drink spiking. This is in response to the shocking levels of spiking and spiking by injection experienced by students last year. Students organising for Sustainability ( SOS -UK) and The NUS found in their survey of 2,730 students that 14% had experienced spiking or believed they had been spiked by drugs PowerPoint Presentation (webflow.com) a third at a local nightclub or venue and a further third at a house party. In response to these findings and students asking for more advice on what to do, who to turn to (70% hadn’t reported to anyone that they’d been spiked) and wanting spikers called out, the charity the Alcohol Education Trust has worked with a group of students to create an #endspiking campaign for freshers this year.
Over 80 Universities and FE settings such as Newcastle, Liverpool, Coventry, Oxford Brookes, Salford, Bath Spa, University of The West of England, University of East Anglia, Kings College London and Worcester are using the single use drink testing kits and awareness materials with detailed advice featured on the www.life-stuff.org website aimed specifically at under 25 year olds. Using the hashtags #endspiking and #spikersRpricks and supported with a Tiktok and Instagram campaign via @life_stuff.0rg, the charity hopes to reverse the trend in spiking and to raise the likelihood of catching perpetrators.
David Sidwick and Joy Allen – The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Joint Addictions and Substance Misuse Leads commented, “For those who do fall victim to spiking, it is vital they report it to the police as soon as possible. Victims should never feel ashamed or that it is their fault, and it is vital the police are aware so that perpetrators can be identified and brought to justice, and we can prevent others from falling victim to this heinous crime.”
Helena Conibear CEO of the AET commented, ‘We are really excited by the take up of this campaign and how determined the police and student welfare services are across the country to end spiking. Only by asking for a drink testing kit, a rapid urine test and reporting to the police via 101 and to student welfare can we ensure that more spikers will be charged and prosecuted.’
Designed by a 25 year old, informed by a student focus group the materials (free for universities and FE colleges) focus on the importance of calling out spikers and reporting incidents. Much better measures are now in place, thanks to the work of the police, good venues and universities including rapid urine testing kits, dedicated welfare staff, safe spaces at venues and drink testing kits. These measures will help ensure the prevalence of 1 in 10 students being spiked reduces ( source: The Tab, SOS,-UK YOUGov and AET) and that more perpetrators are prosecuted.
The AET have produced a range of materials including give away keyrings, single drink testing strips, posters and credit card size take-aways to raise awareness of the importance of reporting drink spiking, noticing the signs, knowing where to go for help and support and what to ask for, sign posting to Preventing drink spiking & what to do if a drink is spiked (life-stuff.org) You can find images of some of the new resources attached.
Kay Hattam Newcastle Students Union Wellbeing and Support:
“Here at Newcastle students are at the heart of everything we do, and we are pleased to support the AET End Drink Spiking campaign. The increase in spiking cases last year was a big concern and we worked alongside the University and other regional partners to help make the city safer and communicate the reporting and support routes available for those affected. As we approach the new academic year, we are making plans to help students feel more confident in enjoying the city as well as knowing what to do if they need to seek help. With communications, information, and free resources available throughout the Freshers period and beyond, the AET campaign materials and giveaways will add an extra layer of welfare and the strong message that spiking must end.”
Tracy Lumb, Senior Project Manager – Wellbeing, Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK):
“Students should be able to participate in all elements of university life without the fear of being harmed. Spiking is a heinous crime that has a significant effect on a victim’s long-term wellbeing and we are working with universities and students’ unions to ensure policies and practices are in place to both deter spiking and ensure appropriate support is in place for victims. We look forward to continued collaboration with The Alcohol Education Trust in raising awareness of spiking.”
David Sidwick and Joy Allen – The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Joint Addictions and Substance Misuse Leads:
“Spiking is a despicable and incredibly dangerous act which can have devastating consequences for victims. Perpetrators are always the ones responsible for these crimes, however, in the lead up to Freshers term we would like to remind students of the dangers of spiking and encourage them to be extra vigilant when enjoying the university night life. As Police and Crime Commissioners we are working with national partners and stakeholders including the Alcohol Education Trust to tackle spiking, identifying offenders and provide support to victims. Earlier this year a Home Affairs Inquiry into spiking proposed several recommendations to bring improvements to the way spiking incidents are reported and investigated, one of which was to make spiking a separate offence, something which we wholeheartedly support. This would send a clear message to perpetrators that spiking is not acceptable and encourage victims to come forward and report incidents to police.”
Helena Conibear – CEO The Alcohol Education Trust:
“This campaign encourages all those enjoying nights out to look out for each other, to ask for suspect drinks to be tested at venues and to know to ask for a rapid urine test from police. Speed is the essence and we’ve been so impressed by how local police forces and University settings have invested in drink spiking prevention since the House of Commons Inquiry and to the recommendation made earlier this year.”
Sources of statistics:
The Tab Instagram survey of 23,500 students (11%) in 18 Universities across England and Scotland (Oct 21) and SOS/NUS (Nov 21) of 14% spiked with drugs. The Home Office data from 1895 victims of spiking and1400 witnesses to spiking found 68% were under the age of 24 and 81% were students.
The SOS survey found 33% of respondents know or think they have been spiked at a local nightclub, 29% at a house party. 70% of respondents who think or know they’ve been spiked did not report their experience(s) of spiking to anyone. The AEt survey found 92% of participants who had been a victim of drink spiking didn’t report it www.sos-uk.org/post/student-opinion-on-drink-and-drug-spiking and www.alcoholeducationtrust.org