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Reports of ‘spiking’ incidents

Thursday 21 October 2021

The University and Students’ Guild are aware of and concerned about the reports of incidents of alleged ‘spiking’, either in drinks or by physical means, from across the country. We fully understand the distress and alarm these reports may cause, and the safety and welfare of students and staff is always our highest priority.

No-one should feel unsafe when enjoying a night out, or be subjected to any action that places them at personal risk. We are taking these concerns extremely seriously and are working with the Police, local authorities and venues within the city to reinforce safety measures and schemes across the city, and to ensure that the concerns within our student community are heard.

Exeter is a very safe place to live, including for those who enjoy its various venues, bars and clubs. Reported incidents of spiking are extremely low, not just in the city but also across Devon and Cornwall. However, any incidents of spiking are alarming, and call for serious action to be taken.

Devon and Cornwall Police are encouraging anyone who believes they have experienced, or witnessed, an incident of this nature to contact them immediately so that they can investigate without delay. The University will provide all the necessary support for anyone who has been affected, via our Wellbeing Service.

From the start of this term we have made spiking detection kits available for collection from halls receptions, the Estate Patrol Office in Northcote House, the Ram bar, the Sports Park, and the St Lukes SID desk. These include drink stoppers and passive alarms as well as testing strips. We have also run a number of initiatives for students who may experience drinks spiking, or have concerns for their safety. These include the “Ask Angela” initiative at campus venues to alert staff to potential concerns.

Professor Janice Kay and Mike Shore-Nye, Co-chairs of the Gender Safety Group: “We absolutely understand and share the concern and worry that these reports have caused for our student community. Drink spiking is abhorrent, and a serious crime that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. No-one should feel unsafe whilst enjoying their free time and socialising, and the University will work with our partners to do whatever we can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our students within the community.

“If anyone does experience incidents of this nature it is important to report them as soon as possible to the Police so they can investigate fully. We will offer all support necessary to anyone who is affected, both in the reporting process and afterwards. Exeter prides itself on being a welcoming and safe city for all, but even in the safest city incidents can happen, and we will do all we can to offer support to those who need it.”

Lily Margaroli, Students’ Guild President: “Myself and the other Officers have been shocked by the reports we have been hearing, it is clear action is needed. I want to remind students that we take every one of these reports seriously. We want to ensure that all students feel safe on a night out and have a good time by making sure that bars and venues are doing everything in their power to protect our students. We strongly condemn drink spiking, this behaviour has no place in our community. People who are spiked are never at fault in these situations, it is always the fault of those doing the spiking. We are hosting and collaborating with student groups on some events next week to show solidarity and help make change happen at Exeter, check out our website for more information”

Superintendent Antony Hart, Local Policing Commander for Exeter, East and Mid Devon: “Women must be able to feel safe across all aspects of their lives and that includes when out socialising. Those who think it’s acceptable to assault women, whether that be verbally, subjecting them to physical attacks or by drink spiking, must be challenged and will be brought to justice where a criminal offence has been committed.

“We are asking for the public to help us to tackle this issue head-on. That means if you have witnessed something suspicious in a bar, then you must report this to door and bar staff immediately.

“We also need people who believe they have been spiked or assaulted to come forward to door staff and the police as soon as possible. Not only does this give us the best chance in catching those responsible, but it will also allow us to get medical treatment for the victim at the earliest opportunity.”

For more information, please visit the University’s Stay Safe pages on the Speak Out website. If you need support or are affected by anything mentioned in this statement, there are many services available on the Student Welfare web pages.

Mike Shore-Nye, Registrar and Secretary and Co-chair of the Gender Safety Group

Professor Janice Kay, Provost and Co-chair of the Gender Safety Group

Lily Margaroli, Students’ Guild President