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Preventing vulnerability - focus on drink spiking

In response to a recent reported increase in cases of drink spiking, venues are being reminded to ensure all staff are aware of their responsibility when it comes to the vulnerability of customers and their role in enhancing safety and prevention, whilst customers are being reminded to stay alert, look after each other and not to leave drinks unattended.

Mark Morgan runs the new Licensing Security and Vulnerability Initiative, which was developed at the request of the Home Office by Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (Police CPI), a police-owned organisation that works alongside the Police Service around the UK to deter and reduce crime.

Mark stated, “We’ve seen a lot of recent adverse media in relation to drink spiking within licensed premises. This is of real concern at a time when there is such a focus upon the safety of women and girls in particular.

“There are simple steps which can be taken to avoid this, from venues displaying prominent signage reminding customers not to leave their drinks unattended and not to accept drinks from strangers; training all staff in the danger of drinks being spiked and encouraging them to monitor unattended drinks; making all staff aware of the necessity to provide immediate assistance to any customer feeling dizzy, disorientated or showing signs of intoxication and if anyone is acting suspiciously around unattended drinks asking them to leave immediately or calling the police immediately if drink spiking is suspected. Venues should also consider providing stopper devices, such as lids to put on drinking vessels, which can reduce the risk of a drink being spiked.

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“For customers, if your drink has been spiked, it's unlikely that you’ll see, smell or taste any difference, albeit some drugs may taste slightly salty or smell unusual. If you start to feel strange or feel that your drink has had more of an effect on you than it should have, get help immediately. Try to avoid drinking too much alcohol, particularly when in unfamiliar surroundings as you could make risky decisions and become less aware of potential danger. Never leave your drink unattended and keep an eye on your friends' drinks. Be careful about accepting a drink from someone you don't know. Think about drinking bottled drinks and avoiding shared drinks such as punch bowls or cocktail jugs. Please don't provide personal details, especially your address to someone you've just met. You should plan your nights out and travel arrangements, using only recognised travel routes and providers.

“If you think your drink has been tampered with, don't drink it – tell a trusted friend, relative, medic, police or someone you completely trust immediately. If alone, call someone you trust and get to a safe place. If you need urgent help, call 999. Be wary of accepting help from a stranger and don’t leave with someone you don’t know. If you feel unwell, someone you trust should take you to your nearest A & E department and tell the medical staff that you think your drink has been spiked, being sure to arrange for a trusted friend or relative to take you home and if necessary, stay with you until any drugs have fully left your system”.

Licensing SAVI brings together for the first time all the information that licensees in England and Wales need to promote the four, all-important Licensing Objectives: Prevention of Public Nuisance, Prevention of Crime and Disorder, Protection of Children from Harm, and Public Safety.

Available as an online self-assessment, Licensing SAVI brings together definitive information on effective management practices and operational security including some straightforward safety measures – many of which can be introduced quickly and at little or no cost and some which licensed premises may not have considered before.

Importantly, completion of the self-assessment can lead to Accreditation and an Award with a Star-Rating for display to show the efforts undertaken to enhance safety and security.