Newcastle students call for action over spiking and sexual violence
A group of students have called on Newcastle University to take more action to combat the spiking of drinks and sexual violence against women.
The It Happens Here Society said from a survey of 209 students yet to be published, 89 per cent said they or someone they knew had been spiked during their time studying in the North East and 83 per cent said they or someone they knew had been sexually assaulted.
The Society is handing out free testing kits for students to use, which will show if their drinks have been spiked with GHB or ketamine. It follows a spate of reported spikings nationwide in October.
The President of the Society, Madeline Baugh, said this is only one part of the action the group is taking.
She said: "A lot of the issues that we’re finding with students is that they don’t actually know how to report, where to go, what happens if they do report and some of them have been positive, but the vast majority have been saying that the university needs to do more to support survivors of sexual violence."
However, Newcastle University has told ITV News Tyne Tees that it has worked in collaboration with the Students' Union to fund the spiking test kits and on the wider issues of sexual violence, it maintained it has robust support networks.
A Newcastle University spokesperson said: "We are fully committed to the wellbeing and safety of our students and do our utmost to support those who have experienced spiking and sexual violence, including sexual harassment.
"We have worked in collaboration with Newcastle University Student's Union to fund the drink spiking kits as an additional safeguarding measure to help protect our students.
"All of our NUSU Club and Society Welfare Officers are trained to recognise all forms of sexual violence and how to signpost students who have experienced this to appropriate services.
"At Newcastle University, we believe full responsibility lies with the perpetrators of these crimes and have put several measures in place to help keep our students safe.
"Students can report incidents of spiking or sexual violence, anonymously or with contact details, via our Report and Support tool so that they can receive free, safe, non-judgemental support from our dedicated Hate Crime and Sexual Violence Prevention team.
"We have a team of specially trained sexual violence liaison officers, a University SafeZone App, and a Chaplaincy service that all students can access."
Newcastle University Students' Union said it was working closely with the University and local authorities to better understand the scale of the problem.
Welfare Officer, Briana Gordhan, said: "From this (survey) we’ve gathered really important information which has let us know that spiking is really happening in Newcastle and no wonder students are feeling really anxious about that.
"We also had a series of emergency meetings with the City Council, local authorities, licensing departments and other external partners. This was a crucial moment to have our voices heard and now these meetings continue on within the City Council."