One year away from the Girls Night In nightclub boycotts, where are we with drink doping?
A year ago, I created the Girls Night In campaign with the help and support of my friends with the aim of bringing mainstream attention to the local, national and global issue of drink doping. The Girls Night In movement was launched via Instagram on October 17, 2021 amid a whirlwind of incidents that took place in Edinburgh.
The movement proposed a boycott of nightclubs in Edinburgh as a way to demand action from these establishments to demonstrate that they put the safety of their customers first, given that these incidents were mainly happening under their roofs.
What started as a small social media movement quickly grew into a national campaign that spread across the UK within hours and around the world within days. The momentum for Girls Night In reflected the looming and widespread fear surrounding the spike issue which was obviously escalating and clearly affecting the lives of many people.
During the month of October, Girls Night In Instagram racked up over 6,300 followers, reached and interacted with over 26,000 social media accounts, and over 2,000 people confirmed they were taking part in club boycotts. night on October 28. More than 40 other cities participated in the Girls Night in Campaign.
At the start of this venture, I asked Girls Night In followers and supporters what would make them feel safer in nightclubs. I’ve outlined the most common and important concerns of followers in an open letter to nightclubs to detail specific improvements they can make to their businesses.
Topics of discussion ranged from strengthening security to retraining personnel and focused not only on preventing these heinous attacks, but also on handling them properly. The main recurring theme was diligence; these establishments and their staff must be diligent in ensuring the safety of their customers from start to finish, and laws and regulations must reflect this diligence.
So a whole year later, let’let’s look at where we are with drink doping.
In the aftermath of the campaign, different clubs had different approaches and solutions for prioritizing, or not, safety at their venues. A a series of polls and question boxes have been posted on Girls Night In Instagram in recent days to reflect on progress over the past year.
“Have you experienced increased security in nightclubs since the boycotts (last October)”?
268 (43%) subscribers voted yes and 360 voted no (57%).
The types of security measures that have been implemented in the experience of subscribers who voted yes are:
“The searches are not thorough at all and target specific people, not everyone.”
“Body searches, including wallets.”
“Knocking and checking the bags.”
“A lot more lids with drinks.”
“Cup covers are the only thing I’ve seen that lasted.”
However, some suggested implementations that were put in place at the time have since disappeared:
“They were implemented for about a week and then forgotten.”
“Lids on drinks but only continued in one club.”
“They were in place for a while, but now they’ve all stopped.”
In general, do you feel safer in nightclubs/nightlife in Edinburgh?
154 people (26%) voted yes.
136 (23%) voted no.
303 people (51%) voted that they didn’t notice a difference.
In your experience, have the doping cases increased, decreased or stayed the same since the boycotts last October?
Only 32 people (six percent) voted that they thought cases had increased, while 281 people (50 percent) voted that cases had decreased.
249 people (44%) voted saying they thought the numbers had stayed the same.
In November, a month after the boycott, a report found that one in nine women said they had been spiked in their drink, while a third of those polled said they knew someone whose drink had been spiked.
Doping does not discriminate between genders, in fact, six percent of men have reported having had their drink doped, and one in five men say they know someone who has been a victim.moment of doping.
The same report asked the public to rate how seriously different groups of people would take their doping and found that women were divided on whether or not they thought the police would take their request seriously:
I had the honor of sitting in a Meeting of the Education, Children and Youth Committee on the subject of “alcohol and needle use” on Wednesday 26 January. For two hours, a panel of many different representatives discussed the progress made in the fight against doping. Participants included Andrew Green (Scottish Beer & Pub Association), Kate Wallace (Victim Support Scotland), Superintendent Hilary Sloan (Police Scotland), Professor Sally Maptone (Universities Scotland) and the University’s EUSA Chair of Edinburgh, Ellen MacRae.
The official committee meeting report highlights one of the points I raised during the meeting: “One of the key issues in the conversation is the fact that there is such a lack of clarity about the procedure for reporting spikes. It comes down to the education and culture behind the incidents. As a student , I’m someone this could very well happen to, and I know a lot of people this has happened to, no one really knows the exact procedure, i.e. there is no well-defined procedure.
“It’s a fundamental question because, if it’s not widely publicized as something that should be followed afterwards, people will not. They will have already experienced trauma, so they will not be perhaps not fully motivated to do all the research to find the specific thing they need to do next. From now on, the focus should be on establishing a clear procedure of who and where I’m sure there is such a procedure, but it needs to be more integrated into education on the subject.”
On April 26, 2022, the UK parliament published a report which revealed that the government was considering the case for a separate criminal offense for doping following the dramatic increase in the number of doping cases seen at the end of of 2021. The same report also suggested that the most urgent need is for the police to collect more data on the perpetrators and their motivations to bring up innocent victims, saying: “The Home Office should commissionn research to feed a national strategy for the prevention, detection and prosecution of doping”.
Overall, although drink doping remains an issue, as it has for decades, one positive thing that has come out of the Girls Night In movement is the awareness of the dangers of drink doping. This awareness is accompanied by education and advice for prevention and support for victims.
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