‘Girls Night In’: Leeds Students Boycott- The Spiking Crisis

‘Revolution is coming.’

Following increased reports regarding young students being confronted with violence and malicious spiking attempts, the issue has gained traction across social media platforms. Things need to change in terms of the uncertainty of women’s safety in nightclubs.

On Wednesday 27th October, ‘Girls Night In,’ an organisation founded to raise awareness of spiking levels rising, partnered with the Leeds Student Radio in order to hold a boycott against pubs and clubs in Leeds. Students were told to not attend any clubs or bars on the night of 27th, regarding the urgent matter.

The Instagram page ‘@GirlsNightInLeeds,’ founded by the organisers of the Leeds boycott, Izzy Broadhurst, Isabel Davies and Joscelin Story, gained over 4,000 followers, drawing attention to violence against women and risks to women’s safety. Across the country, similar citywide boycotts have taken place over the Halloween weekend.

The risk of spiking makes me hesitant to go out and might make me feel less comfortable when out, due to fearing it happening.’- Student (18) University of Sheffield.

It has been reported that new, more undetectable methods of spiking are developing, with needle injections being the most recent form.  Whilst earlier ways of preventing spiking have been effective, such as drinks covers, how can we protect ourselves from the new and the unpredicted?

I think that drink covers and straws are a good way to be safer, however, we should not have to go to such lengths in the first place.’ – Male (18) Huddersfield.

In terms of ‘the bigger picture,’ students are left questioning what can be done in order to reduce the spiking crisis. Students have been left feeling hopeless. Bars and clubs are not doing enough to reduce victim numbers, leaving those to fend for themselves and their own safety.

I’ve had girls come over to me and tell me they’ve seen someone put something in my drink, I’ve also had to go tell the same thing to others.’- Female (18) Huddersfield.

Many are calling for ‘all women’s night clubs,’ and safer spaces for women, with an increased pressure on searching before entry to any type of bar or nightclub. No woman, or man, should be in danger under any circumstances whilst out on a night.  Whilst many students believe that increased police forces could aid the matter, most believe that the correct path to improving the crisis is better education for men.

Women shouldn’t be afraid to have a good time! Revolution is coming.’- Female (18) Leeds Arts University.

I don’t see how any physical measures can stop it. We need to stop people from wanting to do it.’ -Student (18) University of Sheffield.

One of the most eye-opening things to come out of the boycott has been the varied attitudes towards the matter. It has become an increasing concern that spiking is not seen as a serious matter to many, but rather a joke.

On a night out, a girl had been spiked. She was laying on the floor and being put into an ambulance, some boys I was with started laughing. It kind of shows what some boys think.’  Female (18) Leeds.

I was spiked a few years ago, out in Huddersfield, my friend did it as a joke.’- Male (20) Huddersfield.

In an interview with a male victim, he shared his experience when he was unintentionally spiked alongside his friend, after accidentally picking up a drink from a table that belonged to another girl.

We weren’t the intended victims, my friend had a lot more of it and ended up a lot worse off, we both got thrown out of the club. Spiking is scary, it’s a risk that both men and women face. I know a lot more men than women that have been spiked, however, I think that’s because women are made more aware of how to avoid it and taught to watch out for it. I just hope that the girls drink we had was okay. I don’t know how people are getting away with bringing something as dangerous as a needle into a nightclub. The only way that I see the issue being solved is tighter security, the most I’ve ever been searched was my wallet.

Spiking can be life-threatening; we need better protection for all.