Great Britain
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Thousands boycott nightclubs and take to streets across UK to protest spiking

Thousands of young people across the UK have boycotted nightclubs and taken to the streets in protest over a sharp rise in spiking cases.

Women from university cities including Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Bournemouth avoided bars and clubs on Wednesday night as part of the Girls Night In campaign, focused on "spreading awareness and challenging clubs" to keep people safe.

Dozens of local Instagram pages have been created to spread the news of the campaign, amassing thousands of followers.

It comes after hundreds of cases including drink spiking and injections were reported in recent months.

Petra Mirosevic-Sorgo, who runs Loughborough’s Girls Night In Instagram account with two other students at the town’s university, told the PA news agency that her own experiences of spiking made her want to "make sure that [others] feel safe".

"I woke up and I was so distraught... I just remember running out to the hospital lobby crying," the 21-year-old recalled.

Ms Mirosevic-Sorgo said her university's Student Union had only sold 60 tickets for its own Wednesday night event, which she says shows people are behind the boycott.

"Normally 3,000+ people go out on a Wednesday, so we're quite happy that people are actually taking this seriously," the English and sports science student said.

"On one side, we want to stand in solidarity with the past, present, and future [victims] of spiking, and on the other hand, it's to make a stand against nightlife hosts and events - to say, 'it's really not good enough.'

"And just to make those who have been spiked feel that they've been listened to."

A University of Manchester student said a demonstration in the city in response to an increase in spiking cases was "just the beginning".

Benjamin Hobbs, 18, a management student, estimated hundreds of people attended the march - which went through St Peter's Square - including Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

"It was incredible to see so many people tonight united by a common cause and it's important to note that this is just the beginning," Mr Hobbs told the PA news agency.

"The students of Manchester will not cease demonstrations until sufficient action is taken and we can sleep at night, knowing we're safe to go out and have fun without risk of being spiked.

"We are collectively calling on nightclubs and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to take immediate preventative action to better protect girls from potential spiking incidents as well as asking for the combined authority to run a campaign aiming to make people think about their behaviour and hold their friends accountable.

"We would also like measures to be taken in order to make Manchester safer for young people at night, including better street lighting, especially in vulnerable areas such as Fallowfield and a review of public transport at night time, especially in areas populated by students."

A man appeared in court in Manchester charged with rape on Wednesday after a complaint from a woman who said her drink had been spiked.

Dale Garlick, 29, of Stalybridge, was remanded in custody to appear at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court on 1 December, a spokeswoman for Tameside Magistrates' Court said.

Greater Manchester Police said the force received a report in September from a woman who said that at some time during a night out in Stalybridge days earlier her drink had been spiked and she had been raped.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) said there have been 198 confirmed reports of drink spiking in September and October across various parts of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, plus 24 reports of some form of injection.

Meanwhile, detectives are investigating six reports of women being injected while on nights out in Brighton during the past week.

Chief Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw of Brighton police said the reports are being taken "incredibly seriously" and called for any possible victims of spiking to let police or bar staff know as soon as possible.

PA