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Women will boycott nightclubs tonight over spiking after police receive 198 reports in two months

A campaign has organised a boycott of bars and nightclubs across the UK this evening in a bid to urge venues to do more to protect women from spiking.

The Girls Night In movement will see boycotts take place in several cities throughout the next two weeks with at least six taking place this evening.

 It comes after the National Police Chiefs' Council confirmed there had been 198 reports of spiking in September and October across various parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with 24 reports of some form of injection.

Yesterday it was reported detectives are investigating claims of seven women being injected while out in Brighton in one week and a man has been arrested on suspicion of 'administering a noxious substance'. 

The campaign will spread across 43 university towns and cities over the next fortnight, and an online petition calling for increased safety measures has already been signed more than 168,000 times.

Boycotts will take place in at least 40 cities this evening including Bristol, Brighton, Bournemouth, Belfast, Nottingham and Southampton tonight with more set to take place this week.

Meanwhile the students union bar in Lancaster and and Pryzm nightclub in Nottingham have confirmed they will close this evening in solidarity with the movement. 

Seven women say they have been injected on nights out in two Sussex resorts in just seven days. Six revellers told police they were injected while out in Brighton city centre with another woman saying she was spiked during a night out in Eastbourne. 

Police received initial reports of women feeling unwell after nights out on in Brighton last Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and four more followed in the next few days. Another woman in Eastbourne reported said she was injected after a night out in the town on Saturday. 

Brighton's police chief 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. 

A Sussex Police spokesman said night-time patrols are being increased and each incident is being 'thoroughly investigated', as well as the series as a whole.

Chief Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw, divisional commander for Brighton and Hove, said: 'Everybody has the right to enjoy a night out in safety and we fully understand the concerns around these troubling reports, not only in Sussex but across the country.

'Unannounced licensing checks throughout the night provide an additional level of support and if you see our officers out and about, please do speak to them - or licensed security staff - about any concerns or suspicious behaviour.

'Please be assured that we take all reports incredibly seriously and ask anybody who believes they may have been a victim of spiking to let police or bar staff know as soon as possible so they can be tested before potential drugs leave their system and evidence can be gathered.' 

Elsewhere in the UK, an investigation is under way after a woman reported being injected with an unknown substance in Preston at the weekend. Police were also called to a separate incident in the city on Saturday where two women reported having their drinks spiked, Lancashire Constabulary said. 

Georgia Latham (pictured), 21, went for one drink at Pryzm nightclub with a friend at 11pm on Friday after finishing work as a Stag Do hostess in Cardiff

Ms Latham said her night on October 22 took a 'terrifying' turn when her legs stopped working. After leaving Pryzm (pictured) she and her friend went to the nearby Live Lounge, where she started to feel unwell

Have you seen, heard or been targeted through spiking by injection?

Contact emer.scully@mailonline.co.uk

Students are planning to boycott nightclubs as part of nationwide protests, with more than 30 universities taking part in the campaign in a bid to force venues to increase safety measures.

Following reports of spiking by needles in Nottingham, a petition calling for it to be a 'legal requirement' for nightclubs to 'thoroughly' search customers upon arrival has been signed by more than 168,000 people. 

Another petition, unconnected to Girls Night In, is calling on the government to fund free drink spiking test kits that give an instant result has reached 12,000 signatures. 

Those taking part in the boycott will stay at home on a designated night to raise awareness of the attacks and encourage venues to improve security.

Venues have vowed to close in solidarity with the movement including in Lancaster and Nottingham.

The Sugarhouse, run by Lancaster University's student union, said it will use the closure to train staff about how to deal with suspected spikings.

Meanwhile Pryzm in Nottingham has said it will shut its doors tonight 'in solidarity with the nightlife boycott'. 

It comes as two more students have claimed they lost use of their legs after being spiked during nights out. 

Georgia Latham, 21, went for one drink at Pryzm nightclub with a friend at 11pm on Friday after finishing work as a Stag Do hostess in Cardiff. And in Liverpool an 18-year-old student, who asked not to be named, has claimed she was injected in the back while queuing for Baa Bar on Fleet Street.  

Victims have become violently ill while out and only realised they had been injected when they found 'pin prick' marks on their bodies.

Ms Latham said her night on October 22 took a 'terrifying' turn when her legs stopped working.

After leaving Pryzm she and her friend went to the nearby Live Lounge, where she started to feel unwell.

The pair managed to tell a bouncer they thought Ms Latham had been spiked and were taken to a medical room where the third-year Cardiff University student stopped being able to communicate.

'I sat there and I was with it in terms of I could process and hear what people were saying, but I couldn't respond, so I was just crying because I couldn't get my words out or say how I was feeling,' she said. 

Ms Latham was checked over by a medic friend before she was advised to visit A&E. 

In Liverpool an 18-year-old student claimed she was injected in the back while queuing for Baa Bar (pictured) on Fleet Street

She said: 'I don't remember getting to hospital. The only thing I remember when arriving, which stays with me, is my friend Nisha said to the person at the door 'This is spiking'.

'We didn't even say where and one of the actual people at the hospital said 'Was it Pryzm?'. They knew the place before we said it and they said 'yeah you're not our first tonight'.'

Ms Latham was kept in for several hours and given anti-sickness tablets.

She said staff wouldn't run a toxicology but they suggested her symptoms were most likely caused by Rohypnol. A spokesman for Pryzm said: 'Everyone should feel safe on a night out, and they should feel safe in our club.'

They added that they take 'all reports of drink spiking very seriously' and plan to offer free anti-spiking bottle stoppers, protective drink covers and drug testing kits'.  

The spokesman said the club already operates 100 percent searches on entry. 

Meanwhile, the unnamed woman in Liverpool suddenly started feeling unwell as she queued for Baa Bar shortly after midnight on October 19.   

As she left the queue and stood to the side to be sick, the first year University of Liverpool student said she lost all use of her legs.

She was carried part way home by her friend before they got into a taxi together, but it wasn't until the next morning that she realised what had happened.

The woman said: 'We were queuing up outside and suddenly I was like 'I'm going to be sick.' I went over to the side and started throwing up. 

'My friend told me I was flopping over, I couldn't use my legs, I couldn't really speak.

'I can remember throwing up and I can remember my friend lifting me up and carrying me home. The next day I felt something weird on my back and got my flat mate to look.' 

In a photograph a red mark can be seen on the woman's back, which she suspects is where she was injected.

She said: 'It was very scary, I was crying on the phone to my mum.'

The 18-year-old called her doctor that morning and was told to go straight to A&E.

She has since been referred for blood tests at the Royal Liverpool Hospital including screening for hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV.

Merseyside Police said an investigation is underway and CCTV, witness and medical enquiries are in the process of being carried out.

A Baa Bar spokesperson said they the venue is aware of the incident and has provided footage to the police to help with their investigation.

Before she went out that night, the woman said she had been sharing a bottle of vodka with her friend and they had both 'had the exact same amount of drinks'.

The woman said she hadn't been anywhere else in the city centre that night and her back was exposed in the outfit she was wearing.

The woman added: 'It was so crowded [in the queue], we were talking to everyone - people in front and behind.

'I must have been injected. There's no way I would have acted like that unless I was spiked. I've never felt like that before. I just couldn't use my legs. I was flopping over, my head was flopping.

'I kept wanting to close my eyes and black out but my friends wouldn't let me.'

Merseyside Police said it was investigating and CCTV, witness and medical enquiries 'are in the process of being carried out'.  

A Baa Bar spokesperson said the woman had contacted the club following the incident, and it was taking the 'increased threat of spikings and people being injected across the city incredibly seriously'. 

Ilana El-baz (above), 20, said she was left semi-paralysed on the stairs after returning home from a Bristol nightclub and shared a recording showing her struggling to get up the stairs with her eyes rolling as her head falls into the railings

Pictured: Kirsty Howells, 25, shared a picture from her hospital bed after she was spiked in Swansea one evening

Almost 200 drink spiking incident reported over the past two months 

Almost 200 drink spiking incidents have been reported to police forces across the UK over the past two months.

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.

On Friday afternoon, the NPCC said there were around 140 confirmed reports of drink spiking, but this figure was revised after more data was received.

It said the number included both men and women, although the majority of cases featured young women.

Alleged offences have taken place at licensed premises and private parties.

The 198 figure is based on data received from 40 police forces, and the NPCC said it is still to receive data from five forces which it expects over the weekend.

London: 58 reports of drink spiking

The NPCC said 58 of the 198 reports of drink spiking were made to the Metropolitan Police.

The NPCC lead for drugs, Deputy Chief Constable Jason Harwin, said: 'Clearly these reports are very concerning.

'We are working at pace with forces, law enforcement agencies such as the NCA and other partners including the Home Office and universities to understand the scale of offending, establish any links between the allegations and ultimately bring any identified offenders to justice.'

Nottingham: 32 reports of spiked drinks and 15 of spiking involving needles in recent weeks

Three men have been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to administer poison in connection with a spate of reported drink-spiking incidents involving needles in Nottingham.

Nottinghamshire Police said the men, aged 18 and 19, were arrested after receiving information from a member of the public on Wednesday, following a general appeal for help from a senior officer.

The force said both had been arrested 'on suspicion of conspiracy to administer poison with intent to injure, annoy or aggrieve', and placed in police custody.

The arrests are not being linked to any specific allegation of spiking by a needle, or contamination of a drink.

Both men have since been released under investigation, the force said in an update.

Nottinghamshire Police said it will deploy extra officers to ensure people can enjoy a 'safe night out'.  

A 20-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of drug offences and causing or administering a poison or noxious substance following three reports of women being spiked by injection at two nightclubs in the city within the last fortnight.   

Police Scotland: Nine reports of spikings, eight of those by injection

 A Police Scotland spokesperson said: 'We are aware of posts circulating on social media about spiking incidents involving injections in Scotland.

'Officers are carrying out enquiries, and a small number of reports from the Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeen areas are being investigated.

'These do not appear to be linked.

'We take all reports seriously and we would encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim of spiking in any form to contact Police via 101.'

West Midlands Police: One report of a woman being 'spiked by injection' 

A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: 'We're aware of posts circulating on social media about drink spiking, particularly those involving injections.

'At present we've had one report where the circumstances appear to match the description of someone being spiked by injection. However, it's unclear exactly what's happened and we're in the process of trying to speak to the woman to gather more information.

'A separate drink spiking incident involving a Birmingham-based university student is under investigation, and we've had a small number of reports from Birmingham city centre over the last few months.'   

Merseyside Police: Number of spiking incidents, five of which specifically relate to injection spiking

Detectives said that out of the five reports, three currently remain under investigation, including the incident on October 19.

Superintendent Diane Pownall said: 'Liverpool is awarded Purple Flag status every year and is one of the safest cities in the UK. We know that people travel from far and wide to enjoy what is on offer here and we want that to continue.

'In April we launched our proactive policing response, Operation Empower, where dedicated officers are tasked with identifying potential perpetrators who are displaying signs of predatory behaviour and to disrupt those who present a potential risk. 

'Officers are also asked to be aware of anyone who may be vulnerable to ensure any immediate safeguarding concerns are met.' 

South Wales Police: 'A small number' of reports

After Georgia Latham reported her drink was spiked a spokesman for South Wales Police said: 'We have received a small number of reports from people who believe this might have happened to them and these are currently under investigation.

'Our officers are working with licensed premises to alert them to spiking methods and asking them to be extra vigilant at this time.

'We take all reports seriously and encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim of spiking in any form to contact us.'     

They added: 'Baa Bar was one of the first bars to adapt a no search no entry policy to give our guests reassurance and this has been received extremely positively.

'We have a welfare manager deployed on every shift whose prime focus is to support any guests in need and to observe and watch for any unusual activity along with our door team.'

They said the team have been trained to spot 'vulnerable guests and suspicious activity', adding: 'We have met with the police and are working alongside them and other venues in the city to come up with a plan to try and deter any potential culprits, and what the process is if we find any potential culprits in our premises.

'The fact that these alleged spikings seem to be targeted at the student population is a grave concern and we welcome working with universities in educating and supporting their students.' 

They said the queue was 'particularly long' on the evening of the spiking, and the 'alleged incident happened a fair way down the street' but CCTV had been provided to police.   

In a statement on Friday, Merseyside Police said they are aware of a number of spiking incidents in town, five of which specifically relate to injection spiking.

Detectives said that out of the five reports, three currently remain under investigation, including the incident on October 19.

Superintendent Diane Pownall said: 'Liverpool is awarded Purple Flag status every year and is one of the safest cities in the UK. We know that people travel from far and wide to enjoy what is on offer here and we want that to continue.

'In April we launched our proactive policing response, Operation Empower, where dedicated officers are tasked with identifying potential perpetrators who are displaying signs of predatory behaviour and to disrupt those who present a potential risk. 

'Officers are also asked to be aware of anyone who may be vulnerable to ensure any immediate safeguarding concerns are met.

'Every week we also have an additional number of uniformed officers on the streets of the city and I would encourage anyone with any concerns to approach our patrols and speak to them.'

A spokesman for South Wales Police said: 'We have received a small number of reports from people who believe this might have happened to them and these are currently under investigation.

'Our officers are working with licensed premises to alert them to spiking methods and asking them to be extra vigilant at this time.

'We take all reports seriously and encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim of spiking in any form to contact us.'  

New figures have also emerged showing 15 per cent of females, seven per cent of males and 17 per cent of those identifying as other have had their drink spiked, according to a snap poll by The Alcohol Education Trust.

The survey, which was open for a week from October 12 and had 747 responses, asked: 'Do you think you have ever had one of your drinks spiked?', with 94 replying yes and a further 26 saying 'maybe'. 

According to the US National Center for Biotechnology Information Rohypnol and GHB are two of the most prominent 'date rape' drugs used by criminals.  

According to the NCBI, with GHB, having as little as 2g of the drug - which is often a powder that can be mixed in an alcoholic drink - can result in deep sleep within minutes. 

The half-life of the drug is 27 minutes and is almost impossible to detect after 96 hours.  

Experts warn that Rohypnol is also a powerful sedative with legitimate uses as a pre-anaesthetic or a sleeping pill. 

Used as a date rape drug, it can start affected a victim within ten minutes and reaches a peak some eight hours later. 

It is colourless, odourless and tasteless and causes sedation or euphoria within 20 to 30 minutes of ingestion.  

In recent days a number of women have shared their experiences of being spiked, including Ilana El-baz, 20, who recalled how she was 'left semi-paralysed' on a staircase after returning home from a Bristol nightclub three weeks ago. 

Yesterday, two teenagers, 18 and 19, were arrested 'on suspicion of conspiracy to administer poison' in Nottingham, while a 35-year-old man was last night arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs with intent to administer them at a nightclub in Lincoln. 

This comes after a Kirsty Howells, 25, was pictured unconscious in a hospital bed after being 'injected with Ketamine' amid a string of women reporting being 'spiked' by injection in nightclubs.

Miss Howells posted a photo taken in hospital following a night out in Swansea.

It was shared on Facebook by her aunt, who said Ms Howells is thought to have been 'injected with ketamine', before being rushed to A&E by her boyfriend.  

Chief Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw, Divisional Commander for Brighton, said officers are speaking to two victims who felt unwell after a night out in the city on Tuesday night, October 19, and the early hours of Wednesday morning, October 20

He said: 'They suspect they had been injected. They are being supported by officers.

'We are still at a very early stage in our investigation and a number of enquiries are being made.

'We take all reports incredibly seriously and ask anyone who believes they have been a victim or witness to spiking to contact us. We also encourage people to report any suspicious behaviour to us - either online or via 101, or by calling 999 in an emergency.' 

What do the experts say on reports of injection spiking? 

Is it possible?

Yes - and there are credible reports where people have woken up with needle marks having been spiked.

But the likelihood of it being a widespread phenomena is 'deeply improbable', according to one medical consultant. 

David Caldicott, an emergency medicine consultant and founder of drug testing project WEDINOS, told VICE News: 'The technical and medical knowledge required to perform this would make this deeply improbable. 

'It's really hard to stick a needle in someone without them noticing, especially if you have to keep the needle in there for long enough, maybe 20 seconds, to inject enough drugs to cause this.'

Could someone not give the injection really fast?

Yes - but they'd need a very powerful drug to do so discreetly, experts say.

GHB is one of the most well-known 'date rape' drug and is also self-administered in small doses by people recreationally.

But Guy Jones, senior scientist at drugs charity the Loop, told VICE it would be a 'poor candidate' for injection because of the large amounts of fluid needed. 

'Therefore (it would require) a thick, painful needle. This means that the substance involved would be something that would be highly detectable for several days in a toxicology screening,' he said.

Adam Winstock, director of the Global Drug Survey, added: 'There are very few easily accessible drugs / medicines that could be given intramuscular in a small enough volume that people would not notice and the effects would take some time to come on. 

'What you see in the movies is not reality. People need to keep their drinks close to them, avoid taking them from strangers and keep an eye out for their mates.'

Can drugs be administered to any part of the body?

Yes - but some parts are more effective than others

Mr Jones told VICE: 'Where drugs can be injected non-intravenously, there are specific injection sites that do not work well.

'The back is one of these unsuitable sites due to the low fat-muscle content, and high concentration of pain receptors.'

What about drink spiking?

While injection spiking is still possible, drink spiking is a lot more common.

Incidents of drink spiking in the UK increased by 108 per cent between 2015 and 2018, with 179 incidents taking place in 2017 alone. 

This is only the officially recorded numbers - and is likely to be much higher as it is common for people not to report it to police.

Charity Drinkaware advise: 'Don't accept a drink from someone you don't know and if they're available, use drink stoppers, which can be purchased online, for the top of your bottle.' 

Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most commonly known 'date-rape' drugs.

Recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine and other 'party-drugs' are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks.