Resources to help you have safe nights out in St Andrews.
Nights out

Drinking is common at universities in the UK, but it is totally acceptable to not drink. You might feel social pressure to participate or test your limits, especially if you are from a country with a higher drinking age, or where alcohol is less common. However, you do not have to drink to have a fun experience. To find out more about having a good night out, with alcohol or not, you can check out StAnd Together's  Good Night Out Guide.

Lots of people participate in traditions such as Raisin and May Dip without drinking. The Students' Association and its  societies  hold lots of non-alcoholic  events  throughout the year, starting in Freshers' Week. The  Wellbeing Subcommittee  in particular hosts daytime events, allowing you to meet new people in a relaxed atmosphere.

Things to keep in mind for a safe night out:

  • Eat before going out, and try to have water or a soft drink after every alcoholic drink.
  • Stay alert, and if you drink, be aware of the amount of alcohol that you consume.
  • Make sure  someone knows where you are going, who you are meeting, and when you expect to return. Always plan how you are going to get home again.
  • Go out with a group, stay with your friends, and look out for one another to make sure you all get home safely.
  • Take your phone  with you; make sure it's charged.
  • Everyone engaging in sexual activity must give freely given, sober consent. In Scots Law, engaging in sexual activity with someone who is heavily influenced by alcohol or drugs and is therefore unable to provide consent is a criminal offence. Never leave your drink unattended. Signs that someone is intoxicated due to alcohol and/ or drugs are varied but can include: dizziness, disorientation, slurred speech, poor coordination, drowsiness, struggling to stay conscious, confusion or paranoia, dilated or pinpoint pupils, rapidly moving eyes, detachment from surroundings, and mood change

Drink spiking

The responsibility for spiking lies solely with the perpetrators, however, we have included some advice for students who may want to take further steps to keep themselves (or others) safe and information about the support available for those who’ve experienced spiking.

Drink spiking can happen at any time, no matter who you are with. Drink spiking with drugs can be colourless, odourless, and undetectable. If you feel bad unexpectedly, don't just dismiss it as being drunk; make sure that you are safe.

One under-recognised form of spiking occurs when someone adds alcohol, or more-alcohol than expected, to the victim's drink without their knowledge or consent. This can include if someone buys you a vodka lemonade when you only asked for a lemonade, or if someone got you a double measure when you only asked for a single.

Spiking can be 'malicious,' i.e. done with the intention to cause further harm to the victim (like robbery or assault.) Spiking can also be 'non-malicious,' in cases where the perpetrator may want the victim to 'loosen-up' or 'have more fun.'

Whatever the reason both kinds of spiking are illegal, and disrespect that person’s autonomy and put them at risk of harm.

Remember it can happen to people of any gender.

  • Never leave your drink unattended and never drink a drink that has been left unattended.
  • Only accept drinks you’ve watched being prepared at the bar.
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  • Keep an eye on your friends and keep track of where everyone is.
  • Don’t sign anyone into the Union who you don’t know.
  • Avoid drinking for open communal jugs or bowls (like punch bowls) at parties.
  • Be wary if someone buys you a drink and it is not the type of drink you asked for.
  • Avoid sharing or swapping drinks.
  • The  University Night Bus  also runs every night offering a safe and easy option to get home. Posters with QR Codes to the night bus times are displayed around our venues.

In the Union, you can get spiking test strips from  the Customer Safety team. They can also help you use them if you're not sure how they work. Please note that our tests only tests for some substances, so even if our tests say you have not been spiked with a drug, it’s possible that our test has not detected the drug(s) you were spiked with. Our tests are not sufficient for criminal proceedings, so you would need to get tested by the Police to use it for evidence.

If your drink has been spiked with a drug it is unlikely you will see, smell, or taste any difference. Most drugs take effect within 15-30 minutes and symptoms will usually last for several hours. The effects of spiking vary depending on what you’ve been spiked with. If you start to feel strange, unwell, confused, or more drunk than you should be then you should get help straight away.

Please note that most often, spiking occurs with additional alcohol or alcohol which you did not consent to. There is no testing kit which can show this, so even if a test comes back negative for a drug, it could be that you were spiked with additional alcohol rather than a substance.

  • If you think you've been spiked speak to the staff in the venue (in the Union, speak to our Customer Safety Team) as soon as possible. Don’t leave the venue and try to go home as you might need medical attention and it’s best to stay with first aiders where you are safe.
  • In the Union, if possible, give the drink you think has been spiked to staff for testing.
  • If you’re at an event like a house party or you begin to feel unwell on your way home, you should stay in a safe place and call 999 and the University Security and Response Team. If you’re outside, try to get to a safe place if you can, like the Union or a nearby Hall. Even if you were not spiked in the Union, we will help keep you safe, and you can get a test from us if you would like to.
  • If you think someone else has been spiked stay with them and seek help. Don't let them leave with someone they don't know or trust. Encourage them not to take any more drugs (including alcohol).
  • If you think the spiking involved a drug, later or the next day, make sure you keep you or your friend safe from any potential ongoing effects of the drug, like avoiding driving a car or operating machinery.
  • Most drugs leave the body within 12-72 hours so it is important to seek medical attention and get tested as soon as possible. If you report to the Police, they may ask for blood and urine samples but you can take a trusted friend with you for support.
  • If you think you or someone else has been spiked by a needle:
    • Encourage the wound to bleed if possible, ideally by holding it under running water.
    • Wash the wound with running water and plenty of soap. Do not scrub or suck the wound.
    • Dry the wound and cover it with a waterproof plaster or dressing.
    • There’s a small risk of infection from needle sticks so you may need further medical treatment or testing, like post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) or antibiotic treatment. If you haven’t already sought emergency medical attention, call 111 or speak to your GP as soon as possible for advice.

Support is available and you can report spiking incidents for investigation. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for more information.

Union safety initiatives

Training for Customer Safety Team

Our Customer Safety Team receive a full ‘Welcome Pack’ when they join our staff, alongside induction training. This includes information on how to approach a suspected spiking, including keeping you safe, preserving evidence, and finding out what happened. Customer Safety Staff always take a non-judgemental approach. If you say you think you have been spiked, you will be believed and respected.

Customer Safety Staff will observe and inspect the space throughout the night. They’re not doing this to scare you or ruin your night, they’re keeping an eye and making sure everyone is safe.

Ask for Angela

The Students' Association uses  Ask for Angela. If you are in an uncomfortable situation, simply ask a bartender for Angela. They can help you out of the area/building and into a taxi without putting you in an unsafe situation.

Whether you are getting unwanted advances from someone, your Tinder date is not who they were online, or any other scenario in which you feel uncomfortable/unsafe, Ask for Angela allows you to discreetly remove yourself from the situation.

Testing for spiking

At the Union, you can come and ask for a spiking test kit, either for your drink or for urine. Please note that these tests can only detect specific substances, they do not account for all possible drugs. These tests also cannot be used in criminal proceedings, even if the result showed you had been spiked with a drug.

Even if the suspecting spiking didn’t happen in the Union,  you can still come to us for a test, for help, and to be somewhere safe.

Quiet Room

The Meeting Room on the middle floor is open any club night. This provides a quiet space away from the busy bars for people to decompress, sit down, take medication, or call their friends on nights out. No outside drinks are allowed in the space, but water is available. Customer Safety staff will come and check the room throughout the night to make sure everyone’s ok and check if you need any medical help.

First Aiders

There will always be a member of staff who is First Aid trained available if you need medical help. You can approach a member of bar or Customer Safety staff and they will find the First Aider.

Voluntary random searches

Customer Safety staff may ask if they can conduct a voluntary random search on your person. They will be looking for alcohol, drugs, and weapons. You have the right to say that you do not wish to be searched, however you will then have to leave the premises. These searches are designed to help keep everyone in the building safe, and to ensure we abide by the law and our licensing regulations.

If you consent to being searched, this will be done in a private room, with another member of staff as witness. CS staff will talk you through what is  happening to help put you at ease: we know that being searched can make you feel anxious and uncomfortable. You can stop the search at any time, though again this will mean you will be asked to leave the premises.


All our venues have CCTV coverage which we use throughout the night to make sure everyone is safe. If you decide to report the spiking to the police, they can request to see our CCTV footage to see if the incident was caught on camera.


Consent and sexual assault

See the  Sexual health  page.

Bystander intervention

Got Consent  runs bystander intervention training. These discussion-based workshops teach students about consent, and how to keep each other safe on nights out. This includes tips on safely intervening if you see a situation that could turn into sexual assault. Contact  GotConsent@  if you'd like to attend a workshop or get involved.

Emergencies, getting support, and reporting incidents

  • You can contact the police for non-emergencies by dialling 101 or visiting the police station on Pipeland Road.
  • If you would prefer to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers (0800 555 111) is a free and confidential way to report any criminal activity.
  • The University's  Report and Support tool  has information about support from the University and action they can take, including with the support of external organisations if needed. You can report anonymously or with your contact details, and you can also make a report if you have witnessed something (anonymously or with your contact details). If you report anonymously, the University will not be able to reach out to offer you support and talk you through your options. However, you will see a unique report number on your screen after you submit a report, which you can use to access confidential support from Student Services if you would like to.
  • If you just need to talk, in a casual way or with a professional, see  Talk to someone .