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UK bars roll out drink spiking test kits

Published:  15 December, 2023

With the festive season in full swing, police and businesses have joined forces to crack down on drink spiking across the UK.

Official statistics on spiking are not routinely published, but in December 2022 the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said that between September 2021 and September 2022, nearly 5,000 cases of spiking incidents had been reported to forces across England and Wales.

Hospitality venues up and down the country will be hoping for increased footfall during Christmas, however, with that comes the added risk of more spiking incidents.

To mitigate this, Coventry Business Improvement District (BID) has purchased thousands of preventative items to give out to venues in the city, which will then be available free of charge to people visiting for drinks, food or a dance. 

It has invested in enough items to cover every levy-paying business in the city centre, with 20,000 DrinkSafe anti-spiking covers, 17,500 bottle toppers and 1,000 DrinkSafe testing strips to allow a venue to spot-check if a drink has been spiked. 

The covers can be placed over the top of a drink, with a straw piercing the lid, while the testing strips can quickly identify if a drink has been spiked – which will allow medical teams to act correctly and efficiently if necessary.

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police officers, and Police Community Support officers (PCSO’s) in Irlam and Cadishead in Salford have been out educating bars, clubs and punters about the serious risks associated with drink spiking.

As part of this initiative, approximately 100 free spiking kits were distributed in the local area to protect and reduce the likelihood of drink spiking incidents across the local area.

PCSO’s Mark Hutton and Paul Greenhalgh emphasised the collaboration between the police and local licensees: “Salford’s West District has had around 15 reported cases this year – however, it is acknowledged that the actual number is likely higher. 97% of victims don’t report drink spiking incidents to the police for reasons such as delayed realisation, lack of awareness about the reporting process, and fear of disbelief. With this in mind, we urge anyone who suspects they've been a victim of spiking to report it to us even if you’re not sure you have been.”

As reported by the BBC, test strips, which can detect whether GHB, ketamine or numerous other drugs including cocaine have been slipped into a drink, are also being rolled out in Shrewsbury venues for free.

The project, started by a local firm, has received funding from the West Mercia police and crime commissioner.

Test strips are activated within minutes and an app will then scan the results and anonymously record potential incidents.

The various schemes have been launched amidst a growing concern for the well-being of young people on night’s out.

Research by leading bar group Nightcap shows that young people are being left alone in bars and clubs with 48% of women and 31% of men revealing that they had been abandoned at a venue. Over half of those questioned said that they had lost their friends in a crowded venue and 33% said that their friends had left early.

The research was conducted by Censuswide with 2,022 18-30-year-olds in March 2023, as part of a Nightcap campaign to promote safety in nighttime venues.