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We’re aware of an increase in spikings both in St Andrews and nationally and want to reassure you of the steps we are taking to make sure everyone can have a safe night out. The responsibility for spiking lies solely with the perpetrators, however, at the bottom of this page 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.

We’re taking the following additional steps in our venues:

  • Our Customer Safety Team are conducting random bag searches as people enter the Union.
  • We have increased our signage throughout the Union on night out safety, including highlighting preventative measures, what to do if you think you or someone else has been spiked, and our zero-tolerance approach to dealing with spiking,
  • Our Customer Safety Team have received further training on spiking and regularly walk round our venues to look out for signs of spiking.
  • We have sourced test strips for drinks and urine, to test for common spiking drugs in drinks or for people who think they have been spiked.
  • In the long term, we’ll be exploring and working towards Good Night Out accreditation.

This is alongside a number of safety measures we’ve already implemented, including:

  • Our bars already hold Best Bar None accreditation in recognition of our attempts to improve night out safety.
  • The Ask for Angela scheme: if you’re in an uncomfortable situation, you can ask any member of staff for “Angela” and you’ll be taken to a quiet and safe space. We can also help organise transport home.
  • Our Quiet Room: The Meeting Room on the middle floor is open every night Club 601 is open. 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.
  • Following feedback, water is now available in urns rather than jugs. We're also exploring mains-fed water options.
  • Anyone found to be spiking others in the Union will be banned from our premises for life and referred to the University and the Police.
  • All our venues have CCTV coverage to help identify perpetrators.
  • We work with University services like the Security and Response Team and Student Services to support students in distress in our venues.

Our sabbatical team will also be working with the University on other projects to help tackle spiking in the local community more broadly and improve the support available for people who may have been spiked. This includes collaborative initiatives like Got Consent and Got Limits, raising awareness of support services like the Critical Responders, and working to bring night out safety initiatives to more local venues.

We’re always looking for feedback on how we can improve our services and improve safety on nights out. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to reach out to Anna-Ruth – our Director of Wellbeing and Equality – or Bella – our Director of Events and Services.

Director of Wellbeing & Equality: DoWell@st-andrews.ac.uk | Director of Events and Services: DoES@st-andrews.ac.uk

Prevention

The responsibility for spiking lies with the perpetrators, but we understand that some students want to take further steps to keep themselves and others safe on a night out. The following tips might help you or others:

  • 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.

 

What to do if you think you or someone else has been spiked

If your drink has been spiked 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. Your symptoms could include:

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Loss of balance
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Feeling dizzy, faint, or sleepy

If you start to feel strange, confused, or more drunk than you should be then you should get help straight away. If you think you or someone else has been spiked, you should:

  • Speak to the staff in the venue (in our venues 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.
  • If possible, keep the drink you think has been spiked. Once we get testing strips, we will be able to test it in our venue.
  • 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.
  • 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 it is 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 and reporting options for after a spiking

Spikings can be difficult to experience, and support is available after a spiking from the University and other services.

  • Student Services offers a range of services, including one-off or ongoing counselling. You can make a consultation appointment online or by emailing The ASC on TheASC@st-andrews.ac.uk. If you need urgent support during the evening or overnight, you can access Student Services staff via the Security and Response Team on 01334 468999.
  • Nightline is a student-run confidential, anonymous listening and information service at the University of St Andrews. They aim is to provide a safe space for students to speak about whatever might be on their mind in a non-directive, judgment-free environment.
  • More information about different external and University support services is available via the Report and Support tool and our Support Hub.

You might also want to report an incident of spiking (or suspected spiking) to the University or the Police. Details of all your reporting options are available on the Report and Support Tool. The tool also allows you to submit reports anonymously online. The University can’t take as much action from anonymous reports as named reports, but they can provide a good record of the prevalence of incidents in our community even if you don’t want to follow through with a formal discipline process.

If the incident took place in the Union, you can report to our Customer Safety Team or via email on union@st-andrews.ac.uk.

 

Further information and resources