Video report by Hansh Dim Sbin Journalist Indigo Jones
A Cardiff student who had her drink spiked on a night out has started ‘Girls Night in Cardiff’, a campaign to boycott bars and nightclubs in protest of drink spiking across the city.
In the autumn of 2019 at Cardiff’s student union, the student, who wishes to remain anonymous, had her own experience with spiking when she was in her first year at university.
She started to lose control of her body, was unable to stand up straight and her friends had to take her to the medical centre where she was profusely ill.
She said: “At that time, I didn't know if I could do anything about it, I didn't know I could get tested for it. I thought it just happened and that I might as well just move on. I didn't know that there was CCTV and I could have checked the cameras at the bar.
“All of these things that I didn't know then and were never advertised and are still not well advertised might have changed my response to what happened. So, for me personally that's why I want much more awareness of this."
Her inspiration for a Cardiff-based group was spurred on by the frequent social media posts by the female students of the city on a university facebook group.
Many women have shared their negative experiences on nights out and in the last month there has been an anecdotal increase in the number of reports of spiking instances.
It comes as Cardiff MP Anna McMorrin says women and girls are "not safe" and called for more action to protect them against incidences of spiking.
The campaign has organised a boycott of bars and nightclubs in Cardiff on Friday the 29th of October, which according to the creator is just the beginning of their pursuit to improve safety on nights out.
“I think it's an ongoing thing. I don't think we can do this one protest and say we've done what we can, it's not up to us anymore. I think it's going to have to be a constant campaign until we actually see change. If we have to do more boycotts we will''.
As of yesterday, Friday the 22nd of October, the Cardiff campaign has decided to change its name to ‘Big night in Cardiff’ to be more inclusive to male and non binary victims of drink spiking.
“Our current campaign is trying to push for everyone to get involved because this is everyone's problem, not just women's problem.”
The creator shared her brother’s experience of drink spiking, which happened within the last month in London.
“He described it as sort of going in and out of consciousness, and then he ended up being kidnapped. He kind of remembered being pushed into the back of a car, and he knew he couldn’t really control the situation. Next thing he remembered is that he was on a bus, with no SIM card in his phone, and his credit cards had been stolen.
“But I think that experience, sort of opened up our family's eyes to the fact that it's not just women who need to be careful, it's men as well.”
Drinkaware CEO Elaine Hindal said: “Drink spiking is a heinous act and a serious crime. Although most reported victims of drink spiking are women, men are targeted too.”
“Depending on what your drink has been spiked with, your symptoms could include lowered inhibitions, loss of balance, visual problems, confusion, nausea and vomiting or even unconsciousness.
"Symptoms will depend on many factors including the substance or mix of substances used, the dose, your size and weight, and how much alcohol you have consumed.
“If you or somebody you know start to feel strange or more drunk than expected, or you suspect that your drink has been spiked, get help straight away and seek medical assistance if the condition worsens. Spiking a drink with alcohol or drugs is illegal and incidents must also be reported to the police.”
Nightclubs and bars across the UK have been releasing statements on how they plan to encourage the safety of their customers, including Cardiff Students' Union.
A Students’ union spokesperson stated: "Since increased concerns have been reported about behaviours in the nightclub, a number of safety initiatives and a wider student safety campaign has been launched. These are to provide reassurance to attendees that reports are being taken seriously and to further tackle any illegal and problematic behaviours taking place
“These measures include increased drink tampering prevention – over 2000 drink bottle toppers have been distributed so far with a further 6000 units on order, over 10,000 units of cup toppers for larger cups were introduced this week and will continue to be rolled out over the coming events when received".