The festive season is truly upon us, which means one thing: Christmas nights out. The excitement of buying new outfits, choosing menus and getting dolled up can leave people vulnerable to one very serious and growing problem: drink spiking.
It is estimated that cases of drink spiking have increased by 108 per cent over the last three years: a terrifying trend that can leave anyone vulnerable, out of control and totally oblivious the next day.
Girls Against Spiking is an online movement of predominantly students and working women, who are united against the trend.
The group are campaigning for all student unions in Scotland and mainstream clubs and bars to start providing lids for cups.
We’ve all been told to watch our drinks like a hawk when we go out, but putting lids on cups takes the onus off the victim to protect themself, and shifts the responsibility to the bars and clubs to take better care of their customers.
Founder, Cara Teven, created the campaign after a friend of hers was spiked.
“If you have had your drink spiked in the past it can cause trauma and a fear of going out again,” explains Cara.
“We know you’re out there, and that’s why we’re trying so hard to push this campaign, to make sure there are safe places to go for a night out.”
Earlier this week, Police Scotland gave their official backing to the campaign.
“I think it’s a great campaign,” says Gillian MacDonald, assistant chief constable. “It’s such a simple notion, putting lids over the drink to prevent anything being put in it, so we were really pleased because prevention is always better than cure.”
"We always encourage people not to leave their drink unattended or let a stranger buy you a drink without knowing what’s in it.
— Police Scotland (@policescotland) December 6, 2018
In September of this year, Strathclyde University Union pledged to add lids to cups, to address the problem, in a major victory for the campaign.
However, since September, other unions have been slow to follow in the footsteps of Strathclyde, which is still currently the only union providing them.
“Asking for a lid for your drink is the first step,” Gillian explains. “Even if the bar or club doesn’t have lids available, what it will do is alert them to the fact that their customers are starting to ask for them, so they’re probably much more likely to get them in the future.”
Being spiked is a horrible ordeal for anyone who has experienced it, with many going through hallucinations, and doing things they would never do drunk, never mind sober.
The terrifying reality is that spiking is often a sexually motivated crime, with people becoming incapacitated and unable to say no, which is why young women are particularly at risk.
Hopefully the police backing encourages other unions, clubs and bars across Scotland to join the campaign, to help protect everyone from having their drink spiked.
I've said it loads of time to the press and in interviews, drink spiking can happen to anyone regardless of who you are,…
“We don’t want to put people off going out and enjoying all the festivities over the Christmas period,” advises Gillian.
“This is about being aware, but not being alarmed, so being aware of the simple steps that can help keep you and your friends safe, so you can make the most of the festive season and enjoy all the parties and nights out.”
To find out more about the campaign, head to the Facebook page, here.