Time to knock ‘spiking’ on the head

One issue which has come to the fore since we were all last regularly gathered together knocking back the mulled wines/craft beers/double vodkas is that of ‘spiking’ – the practice of surreptitiously introducing incapacitating substances to innocent parties’ drinks. The intention doesn’t need spelling out but, as we all know, it’s a dangerous and criminal act.

On top of this comes the trend of ‘spike-injecting’ people – overwhelmingly young women – in crowded bars and nightclubs. Again, we don’t need to go into the details of this appalling behaviour: why would you want to get inside the mind of anyone whose pre-night out checklist runs ‘wallet, phone, syringe topped up with knockout solution’? We should all, instead, be concentrating on trying to deal with and, ultimately, eliminate the issue.

The hospitality industry has acted swiftly and laudably to counter these trends, and is working with pressure groups up and down the country to make pubs, bars and clubs into safer spaces. The recently-formed women’s forum in Portsmouth is one such, running campaigns and distributing posters marking out secure venues as, appropriately, ‘Prick Free’ zones.

The fear is that offenders might be put off by such vigilance in well-run, larger venues and might, instead, target small locations.

Whatever the size, from hole-in-the-wall bar to high-turnover club, venues need to do all they can to protect vulnerable customers from this worry – and protect their licences and livelihoods. Complete Licensing can help guide you through the process of making your premises as safe as possible. We can advise on identification policies, testing kits, searching clients on entry and, of course, our outstanding incident reporting procedure, should it be needed.

Commercially and morally, we all want our venues to be happy places where all the clients need to worry about is who’s buying the next round. Let’s drink to that.