Women to boycott city nightclubs amid rise in drink spiking

Night clubbing

Girls night In-Norwich is calling for a boycott of nightclubs on November 4 - Credit: Archant

Women won't set foot in city nightclubs for one night in response to a recent outbreak of cowardly drink spiking incidents in the city. 

Norwich protest group Girls Night In is calling for people to stay at home on Thursday, November 4 - with that day typically being popular among students. 

Started by the Edinburgh Girls Night In group, the boycott is intended to raise awareness, show solidarity with victims and push for meaningful action.

Norwich nightclubs in 1999

Norwich nightclubs in 1999 - Credit: Archant

One Norwich woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "I think drink spiking is getting worse and to be honest even one incident is one too many. 

"Personally I think we focus too much on telling women how to keep safe and not enough is done to educate men on what they should do." 

Close up Image Of Man Drugging Woman's Drink In Bar

Spiking drinks carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. - Credit: Getty Images

There are boycotts planned in 43 other towns and cities in the UK, mainly being organised by students.

The seven students running Girls Night In - Norwich group decided to organise their own following a conversation, saying: "So many girls in our university society are worried about spiking, lots of us have either experienced spiking or know someone who has.

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"There have been so many attempts to do something about spiking, but lots of us feel like polite requests are falling on deaf ears.

"Now, we're not coming to clubs, not supporting venues, and not giving money to those who are inactive, who won't protect us.

"There's such a culture of victim-blaming around spiking, but clubs and police need to do their part.

"We chose a student night to boycott, hopefully lots of students won't go, we're hoping it'll hit them hard."

Symptoms of spiking include dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, memory loss, and feeling intoxicated despite the amount you've had to drink.

Victims who believe they've been spiked via injection are advised by sexual violence support groups to go to the hospital for blood tests, due to the increased risk of HIV with the use of needles.

Norfolk Police recommend those who believe they have been spiked to call 101.

A police spokesman said cops understand spiking causes real concern as it makes people "extremely vulnerable". 

Women's night 

Cans 'N' Cocktails in Prince of Wales has pledged action, promising to hold a women's night on November 4 instead, though tickets will be available for all.

The new bar has already introduced anti-spiking measures such as foil-lined plastic lids, called StopTopps. 

Boss Andre Smith said he has contacted a female DJ in Essex specifically for the night.

There would also be female security guards so Mr Smith would the only man working on the premises as the bartender. 

Andre Smith, owner of Cans 'N' Cocktails bar on Norwich's Prince of Wales Road with StopTopps anti-drink spiking measure

Andre Smith, owner of Cans 'N' Cocktails bar on Norwich's Prince of Wales Road with StopTopps which are a preventative anti-drink spiking measure - Credit: Cans 'N' Cocktails

He said: "If it makes people feel comfortable coming out then what's wrong with that?

"I am conscious of customer safety. It is not only women who can get spiked. It can be men too. Pouring a shot of vodka into someone's drink is spiking. 

"The event will be ticketed only and a closed event no different to when we host drum and bass nights." 

Mr Smith said he has not had any incidents of spiking in his bar with the StopTopps proving very popular.

'Very much in support' 

Natasha Harpley, leader of the Labour Group at Broadland District Council, has publicly campaigned on the safety fears of women in Norfolk.

She said she was supportive of the Girls Night In campaign and highlighted those responsible for the spiking are nearly always men. 

Natasha Harpley,district councillor for Sprowston, Pic: Labour Party.

Broadland district councillor Natasha Harpley - Credit: Labour Party

Ms Harpley said: "It's important to highlight the inequality of women's and men's experiences on nights out and the narrative must shift away from what women can do to protect themselves to creating a culture where men don't feel able to do it. 

"It is not only women getting spiked but even when the victims are men, such as in gay bars, the perpetrators, are still nearly always men."

The councillor said she has heard of instances of men also moving on to injecting women with substances, such as a jab to the leg, rather than just spiking drinks.