Bristol students are boycotting clubs next Wednesday, demanding they do more to prevent spiking

Polling from The Bristol Tab showed 58 per cent know someone who believes they’ve been spiked since the start of term


Bristol students are choosing to boycott clubs next Wednesday, calling on clubs to introduce more measures to prevent harmful spiking.

Led by the social media account @girlsnightinbristol, the organisers of this group demands that clubs provide “greater security, better CCTV at the bar to capture [the] faces of persecutors” as well as “more obvious accessible support for those who think they might have been spiked”.

The campaign has quickly gained support from Bristol students, with the account gaining 2,500 followers in the first 48 hours, and over 6,000 likes. Sports societies such as Bristol Snowsports and Bristol Uni Hockey Club, who would typically host socials in Bristol’s clubs on a Wednesday night have also shown their support for the movement.

 

The movement comes in the wake of recent events in Bristol in which two 18-year-old men were arrested on suspicion of administering a noxious substance earlier this month after a video taken in Pryzm appeared to show a women’s drink being spiked.

The video which was shared widely on social media before being taken down by Avon & Somerset Police appeared to show a man dropping a tablet into a woman’s drink without her knowledge.

Pryzm Bristol said in a statement: “We work hard to create a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment so that all our customers can enjoy a fun night out and will do everything we can to protect this right.

“While these incidents are rare, we take all reports of this nature very seriously. Our teams are fully trained on the issue, we operate our “We Care” policy and support the “Ask Angela” scheme. We will make free anti-spiking bottle stoppers, protective drink covers and drug testing kits available and have redoubled searches on entry.”

In a poll carried out by The Bristol Tab taken by 1443 people, 58 per cent said they knew someone who believes they’ve been spiked since the start of term, last month.

Despite saying they are “fully behind the anti-spiking campaign”, popular student club, Lizard Lounge said: “Our concern is that by creating a campaign to boycott clubs, [it] feels as thought they are working against us and that we are the source of the issue.

“If nightclubs are closed, will this solve the bigger ongoing issue?

“Ultimately, we have the same objective and want the same result. Nightclubs are not the culprits, the individuals with the sinister actions are.”

In messages seen by The Bristol Tab, Lizard Lounge told Girlsnightinbristol, they felt their account was “a direct attack on us as a nightclub”. They went on to say: “It’s unfair to start a page that would suggest we are the culprits of the issue when it’s much more complicated than that”.

Alongside the club boycott, Girlsnightinbristol have also directed their followers to a petition campaigning  to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search its guests on entry, which has amassed more than 125,000. The petition argues that nightclubs need to do more to keep the public safe and that thorough searching before entry would prevent harmful items coming in reducing the risk of spiking.

The suggestion of these new measures has led some to fear how they could be carried out effectively, as there is no guarantee that bouncers would search each individual fairly, which could ultimately lead to some being racially profiled.

The name of the organisation “girlsnightin” which have similar organisations across UK cities has also created some backlash, as the name appears to not acknowledge those who do not identify as women, despite the fact that they can still be victims of spiking.

Girlsnightinedinburgh, the founders of the movement, acknowledged the name “fails to include people of all identities” but that “not only are genders and people of all identities welcome to join this movement; but we hugely appreciate every single personal that has united with us and supported this”.

A spokesperson for Lizard Lounge said: “We are fully behind the anti-spiking campaign. This has been an on going talking and action point for our team especially of recent. We are intent on continuing to ensure safety is paramount for customers.

“We have already adopted vigorous searches on our doors each night we trade. In addition our security and team now ask our clientele to not leave their drinks unattended at any point. Any unattended drinks are collected by our staff and disposed of. In the past we had a designated place for drinks to be put down to use our smoking area, this option has been completely removed.

“We have replaced some of our CCTV cameras and improved positioning to give us better coverage of our venue and added more signs displaying that the venue is under close surveillance.  We are introducing additional signage around the venue to bring awareness of the severity of spiking and to discourage individuals to leave their drinks unattended. Also not to accept drinks from strangers who do not work in our venue. We have added additional security members who constantly survey our venue to ensure people are safer.

“In relation to the girls night in post, we are fully behind the notion they are propogating [sic]. Our concern is that by creating a campaign to ‘boycott clubs’ feels as though they are working against us and that we are source of the issue. If Nightclubs are closed, will this solve the bigger ongoing issue?

“Ultimately, we have the same objective and want the same result. Nightclubs are not the culprits, the individuals with the sinister actions are.

Lizard Lounge has a positive record, yet we are taking further active steps to eradicate this issue altogether. We work extremely closely with local authorities and are attending training with the police and other venues to combat this together  in Bristol. As a nightclub, we have the resources, influence and support to make a difference. By boycotting nightclubs, it suggests the issue only resides within these environments, and ultimately does not help us resolve it with  strength and unity.

A spokesperson for Przym Bristol said: “People should feel safe on a night out, and they should feel safe in our club. We are the most regulated part of the hospitality sector; we work hard to create a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment so that all our customers can enjoy a fun night out and will do everything we can to protect this right.

“While these incidents are rare, we take all reports of this nature very seriously. Our teams are fully trained on the issue, we operate our ‘We Care’ policy and support the ‘Ask Angela’ scheme. We will make free anti-spiking bottle stoppers, protective drink covers and drug testing kits available and have redoubled searches on entry.

“We also have extensive CCTV coverage throughout the venue that we pass on to the Police to help with any investigation. Anyone who is suspected of spiking is detained and handed over to the Police.

“We would encourage anyone who sees suspicious behaviour, or suspects they have been a victim of spiking, to seek immediate assistance from a member of staff or security, who are trained to help and who also have the support of our onsite Medic. We would also encourage them to contact Police and seek medical advice, so that any allegation can be properly investigated.”

A spokesperson for Larocca said: We feel anything that heightens awareness of this issue can only benefit both customers and venues in the long term but this is a problem that can manifest itself at any busy pub, bar, event, festival or even house parties not just nightclubs so we encourage everyone to be aware of the issue in all busy settings where alcohol is present.  “As a venue that has been trading under the same name for over 40 years and under its current operations team for 13 and we are proud we have a reputation for safeguarding our customers. We currently operate over 16 CCTV cameras which cover every area within the club in high definition where light levels allow along with 4 new bodycams.“We also have our own in-house security team who are highly trained with regard to the safety issues and since we re-opened after lockdown we have prioritised paying attention to drinks on shelves and more importantly the behaviour of customers and the potential symptoms of common spiking substances. We also ensure a security presence outside of the club once we have closed to ensure all of our customers leave safely.“We also have the advantage of being a smaller venue where we are able to monitor customers more closely and hopefully re-assure customers. La Rocca also actively encourages customers to raise any issues with our security or other staff straight away so they can be dealt with swiftly.“We are working with the local authorities and indeed are awaiting field test kits from our local Police Licensing Officer which will allow us to carry out ‘on the spot’ testing of any suspected spiked drinks and we are informed that this will give us enough grounds to detain any suspects.“We have  increased signage above all shelf areas to raise awareness and are supporting the objective and goals of schemes such as AskAngela and Bristol Rules.“We are very proud of our record and the relationship we have with our many regular customers so we have chosen to take the step to help raise awareness of this issue by not opening on Wednesday 27th.”

Gravity, OMG, Mbargo and Brass Pig were also approached for comment but did not respond

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• Two men arrested following viral ‘drink spiking’ video in Bristol Pryzm

‘We never walk alone at night’: UoB students open up about feeling unsafe in Bristol