Statement: Increased Reports of Spiking in Nightclubs across Plymouth

Written by: UPSU


As a Students’ Union we are receiving an increase in reports about spiking in the nightclubs around Plymouth. Students should be able to go out drinking and enjoy their night without fear for their safety. 

We have listened to your feedback and concerns and are launching a campaign to raise awareness and educate about the symptoms of drink spiking. We will do this in collaboration with Plymouth College of Art and Marjon SU as well as working with the police to protect our community. 

It is illegal to spike someone’s drink and the maximum sentence for someone found guilty of spiking is 10 years in prison. If a person is caught spiking someone's drink in the SU they will be banned from our venue, and it will be reported to both the Police and the University of Plymouth Code of Conduct Team. 

The responsibility of spiking lies with the perpetrator and not the victim but we also recognise that venues have a part to play in providing a safe environment in which you can enjoy a night out. It is not your fault if you have your drink spiked or have been needle spiked on a night out. 

Given the recent increase in reports of incidents, we also want to share the following advice for those of you who are going on nights out which may help you and your friends feel more secure: 

  • Talk to your friends about how you normally act when you are drunk and what your limits are. This will help them spot when you are acting out of the ordinary. 
  • Keep an eye on your drinks and do not drink from glasses that have been left unattended or you haven’t seen being prepared. 
  • Be cautious of anyone you don’t know if they offer you a drink. Do not accept any drinks you haven’t seen being prepared. 
  • Keep an eye on your friends, their behaviour and where they are. If you notice anything abnormal, reach out for support.  
  • If you suspect a drink has been spiked, tell a member of the bar or security team as soon as possible. If you can take the drink to the bar, they should be able to test it. You should also report the incident to the police. If you feel unwell, seek medical advice and stay with someone you know in a safe place. 
  • If you are at a house party and think you have been spiked, where possible try to tell someone and ask them to help you access medical attention before finding a safe space. 

We strive to keep our members safe but if an incident does occur in our venue, we will prioritise identifying the person or people responsible. 



What are the symptoms of drink spiking? 

The symptoms of drink spiking will not be the same in everyone, but will vary depending on the substance used, (including the dose), your size and weight, and how much alcohol you have already consumed.  

It’s important that you feel able to recognise potential symptoms of spiking:

  • Lowered inhibitions 
  • Loss of balance 
  • Visual problems 
  • Confusion, especially the next day or after waking up 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Hallucinations 
  • Paranoia  

High doses of some drugs used to spike drinks can cause problems with your muscles, a coma (a very deep unnatural sleep) and death. 


What we currently offer: 

Ask for Angela 

If you find yourself feeling threatened, unsafe or vulnerable while in the SU then approach a member of SU staff or head over to the SU bar and 'Ask for Angela'. This will then trigger an urgent response from our trained staff members and they will be able to provide you with help and support. 

Best Bar None Scheme 

As a venue, alongside 55 – 60 other venues in Plymouth, we are part of the Best Bar None Scheme. This is an accreditation scheme supported by the Home Office and the drinks industry which aims to improve operating standards in the evening and night-time economy. This means that in addition to our duty of care to you as members of the Students’ Union we are also guided and assessed by the Best Bar None scheme to ensure a safe night out for our patrons. 

Find out more

First-Aid Trained Staff 

Our night-time staff team (including our Duty Managers, Door Team and Bar Staff) have all received First Aid training so when you come to a club night at the SU you can feel reassured that should you or a member of your group need medical attention then help is at hand. If you are ever in a position, while in the SU, where you need support or assistance – please ask a member of our staff team. 

Safe Taxi Scheme 

UPSU is partnered with Need a Cab to offer a Safe Taxi Scheme. If you need a cab on a night out then you can ring 01752 666222. If you don’t have the money to pay on the night then you can pay at the SU the next day.  


What we’re working on: 


Sourcing Additional Drink Spiking Test Kits 

Due to an increase in reports of spiking nationwide as well as across Plymouth, we are working to source additional Drink Spiking Test Kits to give students who fear that they may have been spiked in the Students’ Union the option of testing their drink. We currently have tests on site and if you or a friend feels that their drink has been spiked, please speak to a member of staff immediately. 


Welfare Assistants 

We’re currently in the process of recruiting additional Welfare Assistants to support students during our club nights. These roles are for University of Plymouth students only and involves attending events, administering emergency first aid as well as providing peer to peer support. You will receive full training.

Find out more


Increased Welfare Briefings with Venue Staff 

Working closely with our Security Provider, we will be increasing the number of briefings with door, security and venue staff to ensure that welfare is a priority and that staff have the tools and information to effectively support students in the venue. 



Accessing Support 

If you have either been the victim of or affected by spiking, you are not alone and there is dedicated support available to you. 


Speak Up 

We encourage you to report spiking incidents via the Speak Up Tool if you feel comfortable doing so. Anonymous reports will allow the University to understand better the extent of spiking and where it is happening in Plymouth. If you leave your details, then a member of the conduct team member will get in touch with you to follow up on the report and check in on your wellbeing. 

Find out more


UPSU Advice Team 

You can also contact our Students’ Union Advice Team who will support you and signpost you to any relevant services. Our friendly team of Advisors offer an entirely confidential, independent and impartial service. 

Find out more


University of Plymouth Wellbeing Services 

The University Wellbeing Support Services are available to support you if you or someone you know has been spiked. We know how distressing and overwhelming it can be to read and hear about the increase in spiking and would encourage anyone who needs it to reach out to the wellbeing services. 

Find out more



What you can do: 


Bystander Intervention Training 

Many of us will be able to recognise inappropriate, offensive or dangerous behaviour but fewer will feel comfortable in calling out that behaviour and intervening. 

The University of Plymouth has provided online bystander intervention training so that you know how to identify these situations with confidence, how to intervene safely and to recognise what you can do to change this culture within your communities. 

Find out more


For more information about drink spiking, visit: