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staying safe on nights out in Plymouth

Written by: UPSU

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Our Ocean City has a wonderfully diverse and vibrant nightlife that much of our student community enjoy during their time at university. Whilst we want you to have fun and take advantage of everything Plymouth has to offer, including getting involved in social activities with friends, above everything we want you to stay safe.

So, before you head out on a night in Plymouth, there are a few things you should think about to ensure you have the best night possible whilst also keeping yourself and those around you as safe as possible.


Before you leave your accommodation:

Getting ready for a night out is often a social event in itself when you share student accommodation. Often you will get ready as a group and engage in ‘pre-drinks’ before you leave for the night. Whilst this might be fun, it can also be quite chaotic, with many students in one space and lots of distractions happening around you. 

Before the night begins, it may be helpful to write a check list of things you need to do before leaving your accommodation and things you want to take with you. For example: 

  • Make sure to lock up before you leave and put your keys somewhere safe.
  • Remember your Student ID and age ID, as well as your credit card and/or cash. 
  • Store all your valuables somewhere safe – not in your back pocked where someone could easily steal them. 
  • If you take a bag, make sure it is one you can carry throughout the night or that can be stored in a cloakroom. Never leave your bag unattended when out. 
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged and you are able to make calls on it in an emergency.
  • Check everyone you are going out with knows where you are going and when. 
  • Book a licensed taxi in advance if you need it.


Drink safely and responsibly: 

We understand that many students will at some point or another drink alcohol. Enjoying a few beverages on a social night out is not a crime, however, it is important to drink safety and know your limits. Here are a few tips when it comes to consuming alcohol to ensure you have fun whilst not overdoing and putting yourself at risk: 

  • Before you start drinking, make sure you eat first – preferably something substantial. Drinking on an empty stomach is not a good idea and could make you very ill! 
  • Don’t overdo it on pre-drinks before heading out. Sometimes alcohol can take a while to enter your system, meaning there may be a delay from when you drink to when you feel the effects. This might mean that you feel ok during pre-drinks at home, but after arriving at the club you might suddenly feel intoxicated and unwell. 
  • Don’t overdo it on the shots. Having a shot of alcohol is a lot different to having a spirit with a mixer – a shot is likely to hit you a lot quicker and harder. If you are going to do a shot, make sure you know your limits and avoid doing one after another. Do not feel peer-pressured into doing multiple shots at once or taking a larger shot than what is standard or you are comfortable with. 
  • Avoid mixing different types of alcoholic drinks. For example, don’t start by drinking beer and then switch to wine later in the night, or vice versa. Mixing drinks can make you become intoxicated too quickly and leave you feeling unwell as well as a more intense hangover the following day.
  • Pace yourself properly. Only order one drink at a time and try ordering a soft drink in-between alcoholic drinks to help dilute the alcohol in your system. This will also help with the hangover the next day!
  • If you start to feel too drunk, stop drinking immediately even if you have half a drink left. Ask the bar or your friends to get some water and find somewhere safe to sit down and gather yourself. 
  • Never accept a drink from someone that you don’t know – you don’t know what could be in it. For one, the drink could have been spiked, and two they may lie and tell you it is a single shot, when really they ordered you a double, meaning you are consuming more alcohol than you are aware of. 
  • Be aware of drink spiking. Unfortunately, there have been cases of drink spiking in Plymouth. Never leave your drink unattended and never accept a drink from someone you do not know or trust. If you are at all concerned that your drink may have been spiked, alert staff immediately and tell your friends. 


Stay with your friends: 

Most students will be heading out for a night in the city with their friends, and whilst you may plan on sticking together, sometimes you may find yourself unintentionally apart. Staying together as a group is a good idea to keep safe and look out for one another. Here are some tips to help you keep each other in sight and stay connected: 

  • Decide with each other before you head out where you are going and when. 
  • If you meet another friend whilst out and want to catch up with them, communicate to your original group what you are doing. 
  • If you need to use the toilets while out, take a friend with you so you can stick with at least once person and not get lost from the entire group. 
  • Make a group chat so you can message each other if you can’t find each other or communicate any change of plans. 
  • If you notice one of your friends has gone missing send them a message or call them to make sure they are okay and encourage them to join you again if they are alone or with strangers.
  • Head home together and don’t leave anyone behind, particularly if they are intoxicated and not with other friends.


Be aware of yourself, others around you, and your general surroundings: 

A few drinks can often affect your perception skills as well as your ability to make good choices. Sometimes alcohol can give people a false sense of confidence; you might think dangerous activities are a good idea or you may decide to approach people you probably should leave alone: this is why drinking responsibly should be a priority.  Keeping yourself safe and respecting other people’s boundaries is really important. Remember: 

  • Respect those around you and do not give them a reason to get annoyed at you.
  • Walk away from any situations that start to escalate – it’s not worth it.
  • Keep in mind how people are responding to you; if they don’t appear to want to engage with you, leave them alone. 
  • Remember that no means no and you should never touch anyone without permission or allow anyone to touch you that you have not given permission to.
  • If someone appears very intoxicated and is a danger to themselves, to yourself or others around you, alert staff or where necessary, the police. 

Many people you come across on a night out will be friendly and will likely be students at the university, however, as with everywhere, there will be some not so friendly individuals about. If anyone is making you feel uncomfortable, either ask them to leave you alone, alert staff at the venue, or consider leaving the venue with your friends. 

If you feel like you are in serious danger, call the police. 


Leaving the venue:

Before leaving the venue, ask yourself the following things:

  • Do I feel safe in the way I am about to get home – have I got a taxi booked or am I walking home with friends? 
  • Can my friends and I get home safely by ourselves, or would it be safer to ask someone who has not been drinking to pick us up or call for a taxi? 
  • Are all my friends with me and if not, do I know where they are? 
  • Do my friends know where I am going if I am not with them? 
  • Have I got all my personal belongings on me? Do I have keys to get into my accommodation?
  • Have I collected my coat and bag from the cloakroom? 
  • Do I know and trust the people who are coming back to my accommodation with me? 
  • If I am going back to someone else’s accommodation, do I know them well enough and am I truly safe? 

If you plan to engage in sexual activities, ask yourself if you or the other individual(s) are  intoxicated and therefore unable to make good choices, including consent. Is this something you both want and would still want if you were not intoxicated? Are you safe, and do you have protection if you do engage in sexual activities? 

You can read more about sexual health services in Plymouth here. 


Walking to and from the venue:

Whether you have been on nights out before arriving at university or not, it is likely Plymouth will be a new place to you and you will not be familiar with your surroundings. Whilst Plymouth is not the biggest city, it is still easy to get lost and lose your sense of direction, especially if you are intoxicated. 

There are some areas of Plymouth that have higher rates of crime that you may want to avoid if at all possible. For example, areas of Mutely have seen an increase in criminal activity in recent years and we advise students to either avoid these areas or to not walk alone, especially at night and when drinking. 

We don’t recommend walking at night in Plymouth at all, particularly walking home after a night out. Arranging a lift home from a friend who has not been drinking or getting a taxi is the safest option. However, if you are walking to and from the venue on a night out, stay as safe as possible by doing the following: 

  • Never walk alone – stick with your friends and look out for one another.
  • If you find yourself alone, call a friend to talk to and share your location with them.
  • Stay in well-lit areas and do not take shortcuts if it means entering an unknown, dark or quiet route.
  • Walk on the oncoming traffic side of the pavement. This is so you can tell if a car pulls up next to you. 
  • If someone if making you feel unsafe while walking by following you or talking to you, regardless of whether you are alone or with others, call the police and if possible, go inside a shop or a takeaway. 


Use the UPSU Taxi Scheme:

If you need to get home from a night out but have run out of cash or lost your card, you can use the SU Taxi Scheme with Need A Cab. To use the Safe Taxi Scheme, ring 01752 666222 and they will contact you when they arrive, making you aware of their car model and registration number, ensuring you feel safe and secure and know where to go. Use your Student ID to “pay” for your taxi ride and collect it and pay the next day from the SU. 

If you do not order a taxi using the UPSU Taxi Scheme, make sure it is a licensed taxi. If the taxi driver doesn’t know your name – don’t get in!

It is always better to pre-book your taxis to and from the venue in advance to ensure you secure your transport and have a safe journey. 


Nights out in the SU

We work closely with local police to ensure that our campus and surrounding area is as safe as possible for our students. We have a number of safety measures, schemes and services which are in place to help keep you safe on nights out at the SU. 

Please familiarise yourself with our important policies and safety services: you never know when you or a friend may need our help.