What is needle spiking? Women spiked by injection in clubs - what happened in Leeds, Scotland and Astroworld

There has been growing reports of drink spiking and being spiked by injection across UK nightclubs

Police across the UK are responding to rising reports of women being spiked via injection in nightclubs.

Campaigners are in the process of organising boycotts of nightclubs in the UK amid calls for tighter safety measures against spiking.

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What is spiking by injection?

Spiking by injection describes the act of one person spiking another, but instead of placing a pill in a drink, it is done through the use of a needle.

Spiking by injection carries extra risks as unclean or shared needles pose threats of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Spiking by injection symptoms are similar to that of being spiked via a pill in a drink.

A petition, titled “Make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry”, has collected over 162,000 signatures on the Parliament Petition website.

The petition states: “I would like the UK Government to make it law that nightclubs must search guests on arrival to prevent harmful weapons and other items entering the establishment.

There have been a number of recent reports around the UK from women who believe they were spiked by injection (Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images)

“This could be a pat down search or metal detector, but must involve measures being put in place to ensure the safety of the public.

“There are too many cases of weapons and ‘date rape’ drugs being used in clubs. It begs the question, why aren’t nightclubs required to do more to prevent harmful items making it into their clubs?”

Since the petition has more than 10,000 signatures, the Government is required to respond to it - and since it has over 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in Parliament.

What are the symptoms of being spiked?

Drink Aware says that the symptoms of being spiked could include:

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Loss of balance 
  • Visual problems 
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness

Drink Aware medical adviser, Dr Sarah Jarvis, says: “The symptoms will depend on a lot of factors such as the substance or mix of substances (including the dose), your size and weight, and how much alcohol you have already consumed.”

What happened in Nottingham?

A student from the University of Nottingham has spoken out about how she believes she was the victim of spiking by injection during a night out with her friends.

Zara Owen, 19, said that she went out with her friends last Monday (11 October), but blacked out not long after arriving at PRYZM nightclub.

Talking to BBC Breakfast, she said: “I went out with my friends to a nightclub in the city - nothing more than what we would usually do.

“I remember going to the bar, going to the toilet, going to the photo booth, and then after that moment my memory is blank until I get home and I’m getting my phone charger.

“I know I didn’t drink as much as I usually would on a night out this night, and the fact that I don’t remember anything is terrifying for me because this is something that is a very rare occasion for me.

PRYZM nightclub in Nottingham is where Zara went the night be believes she was spiked (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

“I’ve never suffered with memory loss and then the next morning, obviously I did with the memory loss, I woke up with a really painful leg.

“I found a pin prick in my leg which was the epicentre of all pain. It made me unable to walk and I was limping around.

“As a young person who’s at university, I’m hearing stories of people who have been to nightclubs and they have been injected.

“I have heard stories of someone having it through their hand or through their back so this kind of gave me an idea this had happened to me.”

She added that she was scared that she may have also contracted a disease if the needle used was dirty.

What have Nottinghamshire Police said?

Nottinghamshire Police have seen a rising number of reports of spiking over recent months and are now stepping up operations to tackle the problem.

Superintendent Kathryn Craner said: “Over the last few months we have seen an increase in reports where people believe that drugs may have been put in their drink – that’s due to the fact that they have experienced a distinctly different feeling to their normal reaction to alcohol.

“But we’ve also received a small number of reports where people are telling us, as Zara has, that this has been associated with a pain or a mark on a part of their body, scratching sensation, and as though they have been physically spiked.

“So obviously we’re taking these reports really seriously and have put dedicated resources into this to understand what’s happening and investigating them more robustly with CCTV inquiries, forensic submissions and working closely with all the licensed premises in the city centre.”

More officers are set to be deployed in the city centre (Photo: Shutterstock)

The police force is currently investigating 12 reports of spiking by injection.

Nottinghamshire Police said that the victims reported effects that were “consistent with a substance being administered”.

The force added that one care an injury was also sustained “which could be consistent with a needle”.

More officers are being planned to be deployed across the city centre over the next few weekends.

The first report of a person being spiked with “something sharp” was on 2 October, Nottinghamshire Police said.

Since 4 September, there have been 32 reports of being people spiked by having their drink tampered with.

Is this happening elsewhere in the UK?

Police in Scotland are also currently investigating a number of allegations of spiking by injection across different cities.

Police are responding to claims made regarding the nightclubs in Stirling, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow.

The Edinburgh Anonymous Instagram page, which is a page which shares submissions from students in Edinburgh to “raise awareness of sexual violence and empower survivors”.

Spiking by injection carries the extra threat posed by dirty needles, like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C (Photo: Shutterstock)

Recently it posted that there had been “multiple reports of spiking by injection in Edinburgh clubs”.

Police in Leeds are also investigating a number of reports of spiking and attempted spiking by injection.

Detective Superintendent Paula Bickerdike, from West Yorkshire Police’s Safeguarding Central Governance Unit, said: “We understand the genuine concerns that women have around their safety, particularly in the night-time economy, and we remain absolutely committed to doing everything we can alongside our partner agencies to make the county a safer place for women and girls.

“We continue to work alongside partner agencies and licensees to warn and educate people about staying safe on a night out, and we conduct regular partnership operations to keep people safe.”

What happened at Astroworld?

On Friday 5 November, at least eight people died as a result of a massive crowd surge during the Astroworld festival, organised and headlined by rapper Travis Scott.

While an investigation into the tragedy has been launched, Houston authorities have said that the narcotics bureau are also involved in the investigation, following reports of drugs being injected into people with needles.

A memorial to those who died at the Astroworld festival is displayed outside of NRG Park (Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said: “One of the narratives was that some individual was injecting other people with drugs.

We do have a report of a security officer, according to the medical staff that was out and treated him last night, that he was reaching over to restrain or grab a citizen and he felt a prick in his neck.

“When he was examined he went unconscious. They administered Narcan. He was revived and the medical staff did notice a prick that was similar to a prick that you would get if someone is trying to inject.”

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