Drink spiking in Lancaster: Council continues to take action

Action is needed to tackle drink spiking, drugs and a ‘chronic shortage’ of bar and club door staff, according to a report discussed by Lancaster City Council.

By Robbie Macdonald
Friday, 17th June 2022, 11:21 am

Recommendations include training venues to look after customers, and getting more women as security staff at night-time venues. Other recommendations include requiring all workers at music festivals, including stallholders, to be trained about spiking.

The new report emphasises the ‘devastating consequences’ of spiking and says victims should also be encouraged to report incidents to the police.

Councillors on the city council’s Licensing Committee received the government update on spiking and licensing responsibilities at their latest meeting.

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PC Andrew Taylor at the launch of Operation Nightguard in Lancaster in December to protect pub and club goers from drink spiking.

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has produced the new report with recommendations. And a government minister, Kit Malthouse MP, has contacted all local council licensing committees about spiking. The developments follow a rise in alleged spiking incidents in Lancashire and across the UK last autumn.

A report to the Lancaster Licensing Committee stated: “An inquiry was launched by the Home Affairs Committee following a sudden increase in the number of spiking incidents across the country in October 2021 and reports of a new form that involved individuals being spiked with a needle.”

A survey was conducted to give individuals who had experienced or witnessed spiking a say. Almost 1,900 victims and more than 1,400 witnesses responded.

City council licensing manager Jennifer Curtis said: “Earlier this year, some councillors approached us about the reported spiking incidents in Lancaster. We then addressed councillors during a webinar session with the police and got some context about what was happening. We looked at what was happening with drinks and whether there was secondary offending. There was also a national enquiry into spiking and this report lays out the findings and requirements.

“Our licensing team will still be raising awareness of spiking with licence holders and venues through their ongoing work. That could include Pub Watch schemes, checking that bar staff put lids on drinks, if appropriate, and have welfare policies if people become ill at venues. We’ll be looking for a pro-active approach.”

The ‘Ask Angela’ scheme is already in place in Lancaster, where people needing help or support can simply ‘ask for Angela’ at a bar and a trained member of staff will help.