Police are investigating reports that a woman in Preston was spiked by injection on a night out with others also drugged in a dark weekend for the city.
The shocking injection incident happened to Georgia Hills, 18, on a night out that included her visiting Switch nightclub in Preston city centre on Saturday (October 23).
In a public post shared to social media, Georgia's mum Tammily Hills put a warning out after her 'daughter got spiked'.
READ MORE: Lancashire nightclubs to be 'boycotted' amid national reports of women being spiked with needles
"Just putting this out there to warn people, my daughter got spiked by injection last night," Tammily wrote.
"[She] has spent all afternoon in A&E."
This afternoon (October 25), Lancashire Constabulary said it was called at 4.45pm yesterday after a woman in her late teens had attended hospital with concerns that she had been injected. The window for that to have happened is between 10.20pm on Saturday and 4.45am Sunday in the city centre.
Officers were also called to Lancaster Road in Preston at 11.57pm on Saturday by North West Ambulance Service after reports two woman had their drinks spiked. The women, one aged in her 20s and the other in her 30s, were take to hospital but have both since been discharged.
Detectives are at the early stage of their enquiries and although the two incidents are not being treated as linked at this stage, officers are keeping an open mind. Nobody has been arrested at this time.
Det Insp George Binns, of Preston CID, said: “We appreciate that there is a great deal of concern surrounding these reports, particularly on the back of what has been reported elsewhere in the country. We take reports like these extremely seriously and are working diligently to get to the bottom of exactly what has happened.
“We are at the early stages of our investigations and we will update the public further as soon as we can. The victims are being supported and I would encourage anybody with information which could assist our enquiries to come forward. If you think you have been the victim of this kind of offence, we would encourage you to report it to the police or a member of the bar staff as soon as possible. You will be believed and it will allow us to obtain the strongest possible evidence to secure a conviction.
“Our colleagues in licensing regularly work with local bar and club owners to ensure people have a safe and enjoyable time and that there are mechanisms in place if people need help, including the Ask For Angela initiative. In the wake of these incidents, we are liaising with licensing and local venues around safety. There will be increased reassurance patrols in Preston over the coming weekend. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to say speak to an officer.”
Issuing a statement, Switch nightclub said it was "very aware of the recent increase of reports surrounding drink spiking across the UK", with a spokesperson adding that "customer safety is paramount".
The club took to social media to detail its safety policy following Georgia's experience, which includes introducing free cup covers from this week.
"Searching - We have carried out random searching on entry to the venue since we opened in 2017. Door Supervisors - Are located across the venue and quickly identified in high visual jackets if customers require help or assistance," a spokesperson siad.
"Ask Angela - We promote and display ask Angela signage and information across the venue, allowing customers in need of help to ask for Angela. All staff are also trained for Ask Angela. First Aid - We have a dedicated first aid room and first aiders on site every night that we are open.
"Signage - Getting to know the signs of spiking is essential; we have increased signage in the venue to help spot the signs of drinks spiking. Cup covers - This week, we are introducing a new safety measure inside the venue; once you have purchased your drink, you can take it to our customer service desk at reception and have the CUP COVERED for FREE. We urge everyone to take this up.
"It's imperative to SWITCH to create a safe clubbing experience, and want to make all women, friends, mothers and parents know that we will do everything in our power to continue implementing this. However, these are our measures alone; we know that together collectively as a nation, more needs to be done to combat the increase of spiking. We ask you to sign this national petition for the government to fund FREE drink spiking kits for all bars across the UK."
Switch has previously been under scrutiny after nightclubbers reported 'shaking' and 'vomit on floor' amid drink spiking claims in September. More recently, groups of university students in Lancashire have set up social media pages promoting a boycott of all clubs following reports of women being spiked with needles across the country.
Women across the country, including in Nottingham and Leeds, have shared personal accounts of going out to clubs and pubs where they haven't been able to recollect the nights events and waking up to find strange bruises and marks where a needle was used to drug them.
Victims from various areas have said they have been pierced with a needle in either their leg, arms or hands resulting in them blacking out during the night.
On Monday (October 18), Zara Owen, 19, from Surrey, who is a student at the University of Nottingham was on a night out in Nottingham with her friends. Upon entering the club and going through security, she went to get a drink from the bar, but that is where her memories of that night end.
Speaking to the Mirror, Zara said: "I was originally really confused because I woke up with no memory of the night. That is something that never happens to me and it was confusing since I hadn't drank much alcohol. When it hit me I had been spiked, I was so shocked to realise this had happened to me as I take the safety measures given very seriously. I cover my glasses and I cover my bottles to make sure nothing goes in, but to realise I had been injected is terrifying."
Since, student groups from both Lancaster and Preston have set up social media accounts dedicated to raising awareness of the sinister attacks. The pages are used to gather signatures for a petition created to 'Make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry'.
Support for the petition quickly picked up as more and more women and girls shared their stories of the recent spiking attacks. Now the petition has reach over 167,203 with the figure still increasing.
Spiking attacks via drinks have also alleged to have taken place in Switch.
Bernie and Alex, both 20, went on a night out with another friend on August 28 arriving immediately at Switch before 11pm.
The pair say they ordered drinks separately from "different points of the same bar". Alex ordered two drinks and after later drinking it 'threw up' immediately. The pair decided to leave the venue where they went to sit in Wetherspoons.
Alex said: "By time we got there, Bernie was just atrocious. Bernie was falling asleep on the table, and it was all out of nowhere. From being 'a bit tipsy at pres' to falling asleep on a table, it's something Bernie doesn't do."
By time they headed back to Switch, Alex said Bernie started feeling "scared" so they decided to go home. Alex told LancsLive that Bernie "just collapsed onto the sofa and was feeling really shaky. I had never seen Bernie like that". Alex waited up for their friend to return home and recalled feeling "shaky and unwell". Bernie cannot recall the night.
Another visitor, who asked to remain anonymous, attended Switch on August 7. She says she was carried out of the venue at "around 3am" and taken home by a friend's parent. The visitor said she had no understanding of what had happened, and whilst friends pointed the unusual incident, she continued to dismiss it.
She said: "I was in denial, I thought I was having the worst hangover ever, but the symptoms of being physically unwell lasted for five days. I couldn't eat or drink anything without being sick and I ended up going into hospital on the fifth day because I was so dehydrated, I couldn't even drink water."
With the medical attention taking place over 72 hours after the incident, the hospital were reportedly unable to take any tests on what substance she had consumed.
At the time, a spokesperson for Switch said: "We have only been made aware personally of one complaint from spiking inside the venue this was the day after. Switch has a dedicated customer service and first aid team in house on every night we operate, including enhanced signage across the venue to remind customers to keep drinks safe with them at all times. We pride ourselves on being a safe night out and have done since we opened in 2017."
Anyone with information which could assist enquiries after the incidents in Preston is asked to call 101, quoting log 1108 of October 24.
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