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Student Safety and Drink Spiking Update from your Sabbatical Officer team


On the 21st of October, we released a statement about drink spiking and what the Officer team and the SU are doing about it. You can read that statement here.

We know it’s a while since this update but we want to let you know about all the work we’ve been doing behind the scenes to address the issue of student safety on nights out. 

As an Officer team, we have launched a campaign to educate people about drink spiking, what will happen if you are caught spiking, the symptoms of spiking and how to tell if you’ve been spiked as well as measures to take to help look out for your mates and yourself on a night out. 

We will be creating a page on drink spiking within the advice section on the SU website, which will continue to stay up and be available if you need it. Similarly, we have now published a campaign page on the website, which will house our updates, this page can be found here.


We are still taking the issue of drink spiking seriously here at the SU. 


Feedback from students has told us that you would like drink covers for our glasses in the SU bar. We have been working with the supplier who provides our glasses. Due to long lead times on acquiring drinks covers it unfortunately took longer than we’d hoped to be able to offer these in our venue. However, from the second week in December we received and started to offer StopTopps drink covers in the SU for students who requested them. 

As well as this, both the Bar staff and the Security team have daily briefings. These include how to protect vulnerable students in the venue and a focus on drink spiking. There is also guidance behind the bar about drink spiking, to ensure that students in the SU are as safe as possible. 


Meeting with the Devon and Cornwall Police and Best Bar None

Within the SU, the whole Sabbatical Officer team, the Director of Student Experience and the Venue Manager held a meeting with Devon and Cornwall Police and Best Bar None Plymouth. Importantly, this meeting was also attended by the President and Manager from Plymouth College of Arts’ Students’ Union. This is important as we believe that students from across the city should feel safe on a night out. 

Calls to the police have increased since the media coverage of drink spiking, and the Police recommend that if you or someone else believe they have spiked, call 999. 

From this meeting, we heard that Devon and Cornwall Police are leading on a drink testing scheme, from which the SU is given testing kits for drink spiking. 

This comes from all Best Bar None member venues, of which the SU is one, being offered test kits. If one of these tests are found to be positive, officers are alerted and attend the incident, with a rapid urine test. These tests need to be done within 48 hours of a potential incident to be valid. If there is a positive test, the individual will be offered medical assistance. If the test is negative, the individual will be supported to ensure that they are safe, and able to make it home okay. 

Similarly, the Pubwatch scheme is in place to ensure that individuals who potentially pose a risk to students in any venues around Plymouth are not able to enter. This is taking place alongside training for door and security staff for nighttime venues. If you have any concerns about incidents or behaviour of security staff, there is a reporting tool through the Security Industry Authority website, which can be found here. You can also speak to the Venue Manager if you need to report any issues on a night out in the SU. 

Importantly, during this meeting with the police, it was raised that it will not be an issue to be found to have consumed controlled substances, so you should not be deterred from seeking help if you have been spiked on a night out. 

Members of the bar staff at the SU, the Bars Manager and Deputy Bars Manager, are on the steering group for Best Bar None in Plymouth. This means that we can advocate for the safety of students across Plymouth. 

We are also lucky enough to have the Plymouth Night Patrol station a team at the Students’ Union on Friday and Saturday nights. A student-led society from the University of Plymouth, Plymouth Night Patrol have been given extensive training to keep students safe on nights out. 


What next?


Coming up, as a Sabbatical Officer team, we will be attending a briefing for the Security and Bar staff before a nightclub event, to understand what is covered, and to understand what is currently expected of staff. We will also be meeting with our partner nightclubs with the SU, to understand what they are doing currently to keep our students safe. 


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