Staying safe on nights out
5 December 2022
UCL is very concerned about reports of spiking of drinks and by injection across the UK. Find out what UCL and Students’ Union UCL are doing to help you stay safe when you’re on a night out, and what support is available to you.
This message contains references to spiking and sexual assault that you may find distressing.
UCL is a safe university and we do not have a high crime rate. However, when crimes do occur, we take this very seriously. We want everyone to feel safe when you are studying or going out with friends.
There have been a number of high-profile reports in the news of people having their drinks spiked. Drink spiking is when alcohol or drugs are added to your drink without your permission, but there have also been reports of people being spiked by injection. UCL utterly condemns this criminal behaviour, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison in the UK.
It is never someone’s fault if they have been spiked or sexually assaulted. UCL and Students’ Union UCL will support any student who is worried that they may have been the target of this kind of crime, and will work with police to assist their investigations against anyone committing such an offence. If they are a UCL student, this will also be considered a breach of our code of conduct and their place at the university will be at risk.
What UCL and Students’ Union are doing to keep students safe
UCL and Students’ Union UCL are committed to making sure our students are as safe as possible:
- UCL’s security team is on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week on campus.
- Students’ Union UCL is putting additional measures in place to make their venues safer.
- Both UCL and Students’ Union UCL work closely together and with the Metropolitan Police to thoroughly investigate any suspected incidents of spiking.
How you can help keep yourself safe on a night out
While venues and the police have a responsibility to keep people safe, there are also some practical steps you can take to help reduce the risk of getting spiked:
- Never leave your drink unattended.
- Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know or that hasn’t been prepared in front of you.
- Stick together with friends and look out for each other.
How to tell if you or a friend has been spiked
Look out for the following symptoms:
- Lowered inhibitions
- Loss of balance
- Feeling sleepy
- Visual problems
How to help a friend who you think has been spiked
If you notice someone is showing any of the signs above, you can help by:
- Telling a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff. Many venues are part of the “Ask for Angela” safety initiative, which allows you to discreetly ask staff for help.
- Staying with them and talking to them.
- Calling an ambulance by dialling 999 if their condition deteriorates.
- Not letting them go home on their own.
- Not letting them leave with someone else alone.
If you are worried that you or a friend may have been spiked or assaulted, you can go to a hospital or the Havens (specialist centres for people who have been sexually assaulted) straight away. You can telephone an ambulance or the police by calling 999 or you can report the crime online. If you are on campus, you can call UCL Security by dialling 020 7679 2222 or 222 from an internal phone, or you can use the SafeZone app to contact Security at the touch of a button.
What to do if you think someone is spiking drinks
Spiking someone is a crime and conspiring to commit a crime is also a criminal act.
Spiking is rarely done alone and often takes time to organise. If you think that someone is making plans to spike someone else, even if they’ve mentioned this casually or they might be joking, you should always report this. You can:
- Make a report directly to the police
- Tell UCL via the university’s crime prevention and personal safety advisor
- Let venue staff know if you are at an event.
More information and support
If you have been spiked, you may find it hard to remember what has happened, so you might not be sure what has happened to you.
If you're worried that you or a friend may have been spiked or assaulted, you can go to the emergency services, the Havens, or UCL Security as above. You can also contact UCL’s Support and Wellbeing team, who can help you decide what you’d like to do next, in a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space.
UCL has a dedicated crime prevention and personal safety advisor, Sophie Bimson, who can help if you have been the victim of a crime. You can contact Sophie by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by using UCL’s Report and + Support tool.
- Find out how to report a crime
- Speak to someone in UCL’s Support and Wellbeing team
- Access in the moment support via UCL's 24/7 Support Line
- Report through UCL’s Report + Support tool
- Find out how you can help as an active bystander