UEA’s Students’ Union (SU) have increased their searches to one in five people among a host of protective measures designed to protect students against spiking on nights out.
Since the beginning of October, 33 incidents of spiking have been reported across Norfolk, with injection being believed to have been used in 11 of these incidents. While reports originate from a variety of locations, including Kings Lynn, Dereham, and Great Yarmouth, the majority come from central Norwich.
On 5th November, a joint statement was issued by Womens+ Officer Patrycja Poplawska, Welfare, Community and Diversity Officer Aaron Campbell, Postgraduate Education Officer Ayane Hida, Undergraduate Officer Ivo Garnham, and Activities and Opportunities Officer Lizzie Payne.
Alongside searching one in five people in the queue, the statement says the SU will also aim to search all bags upon entry and re-entry, placing security staff, first aiders, and the Alcohol Impact Crew throughout the venue to ensure student safety. They will also be increasing the number informative posters around SU venues for use in emergencies and encourage students to utilise the anti-spiking devices available at the bar.
However, a diabetic student told Concrete she entered Sports Night with a satchel which was given “a cursory glance”. The satchel contained insulin needles which were completely missed by the security staff.
Within the statement, the SU Officers said they believe “the key to tackling issues like spiking and women’s safety in general, is in tackling the negative messages that men and boys receive about acceptable and unacceptable behaviours towards people, and specifically women”.
They also apologised for the wording used in recent Instagram posts on this topic, acknowledging they could be interpreted as victim blaming. This follows criticism of a now deleted social media post released by Durham University Student Wellbeing which read “Drink Spiking is dangerous and something that you can prevent from happening to you and your friends… don’t get spiked”. UEA SU have clarified their position on this, stating: “we will never blame someone for being the victim of spiking, or any other harmful behaviour. We are on your side and will make sure that people found to be spiking are held to account”.
Chief Inspector Ed Brown, from Community Safety at Norfolk Police, warned: “If your intention is to go and spike someone then be aware that this will have serious consequences for you when you are caught… Anyone found to be committing these crimes will be dealt with robustly by the police and could face a lengthy prison sentence”.