‘We’re ready’: City clubbing boss outlines measures to stamp out spiking

Junkyard Market is a bustling new open air, forward-thinking street food market outside St Mary's Wo

Michael Femi-ola (back row, centre) runs Junkyard and has already implemented a raft of measures to prevent against spiking at his events - Credit: Archant

A city clubbing boss has taken urgent action to crack down on spineless drink-spiking criminals.  

Last weekend eight people were spiked on nights out in Norwich and Great Yarmouth – some with needles.  

And Michael Femi-ola, owner of AfterDark Promotions which runs Junkyard, The Dancing Astronaut and a range of student events in Norwich, has called on all stakeholders in the night time economy to stand together against the crime. 

As well as urging city venues to all pitch in for toxicology equipment for the SOS bus in Prince of Wales Road, Mr Femi-ola outlined the urgent training given to his team ahead of welcoming 3,000 people to an event at the Norfolk Showground this weekend.  

The Dancing Astronaut at the Norfolk Showground Credit: The Dancing Astronaut

A Dancing Astronaut event will take place this weekend with combative spiking measures in place - Credit: Archant

He explained: “Spiking has always been on the risk assessments for venues but the rise in reports has put the issue front and centre. 

“We’ve already put in an order for StopTopps - lids for drinks - ahead of the Halloween weekend to provide some preventative measures.  

“But tin lids aren’t a long-term solution and educating people is what will really make a difference here. 

“An issue with spiking in the past has been that it hasn’t been taken seriously – and victims might have been worried about reporting it. All of our staff have been trained on what to do if someone reports spiking, as well as measures like bar staff not placing drinks in front of customers until the customers have their eyes on it or in their hands.  

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“Our security partners at Regency are also giving their staff training so that the process from a report, to care for the victim, to trying to find the offender and reporting it to the police, all goes through as quickly as possible.” 

Mr Femi-ola also has a team of medics on hand for the Dancing Astronaut event on Saturday night. 

He said: “At the moment medics can’t do the testing for spiking at the venue. 

“But having a private ambulance on-hand at Dancing Astronaut events means we can get any potential cases to hospital for toxicology tests as soon as possible – without having to wait for an NHS ambulance to be sent out to us.  

“We’re fully prepared for a report this weekend. 

“We’re also asking people not to bring bags to our events unless absolutely necessary – we search every bag but the fewer bags we have to search the more time we have for body searches.”  

He went on: “We’ve also started work with one of our suppliers to design a reusable cap for drinks. 

“In the long term I’d like to see all of the venues, security bosses and event managers come up with a solution.  

“I'd also like to start a conversation about whether venues and bosses could pitch in to buy the necessary equipment for immediate spike testing equipment to be installed on the SOS bus. At the moment the technology is extremely expensive and in its early days - which means it wouldn’t be accessible to the smaller venues.  

“The thing is – every venue needs to have access to solutions, which is why we need to work together and share ideas.  

“Spiking is not down to venues – we can absolutely be prepared but there’s no measure to work out where criminals will strike next.

“So it’s really important that it’s not just clubs which are part of this conversation. It’s pubs, bars and every other venue which serves drinks.  

“The other thing which we’ve also got to be wary of is that spiking isn’t just drugs and needles. You can be spiked with alcohol and spiking can happen within a friendship group. 

“If one person asks for a single and their mate orders them a double but doesn’t tell them, that that person is consuming double the amount of alcohol than they think they are. They might think they’ve had four drinks and are panicking about how drunk they feel when in reality they’ve had eight shots of alcohol.”