Recent social media reports of drink spiking in Falmouth have led to local nightlife feeling unsafe for some students, with plans for a boycott next week.
Drink spiking involves adding alcohol or drugs to someone’s drink without their knowledge. It is illegal and carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years but difficult to trace if not reported within the first 12 to 72 hours.
Students at Falmouth University and the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campuses established the anti-spiking group Girls Night In Cornwall on 19 October.
Having amassed over 400 followers on Instagram, the group has published infographics on spiking and students’ ideas to prevent it.
The group plans to boycott Falmouth clubs on Wednesday, 27 October in response to “multiple and recent cases of spiking”.
It has claimed that over 100 people said that they knew someone who had been spiked in its anonymous poll, although police have only received three reports of spiking in Falmouth since the start of September.
It said that the aims of the boycott are to “open conversation” and “challenge current measures put in place by bars/clubs that we feel are not protecting us sufficiently”.
The group is part of a nationwide Girls Night In student movement planning boycotts next week.
National demands include introducing active bystander training, having designated welfare officers, supplying free anti-spiking devices, emphasising zero-tolerance spiking policies, and implementing clear procedures for reporting and support.
A recent petition to parliament to legally require “nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry” has received over 160,000 signatures and is being promoted by Girls Night In groups.
Devon and Cornwall Police, Falmouth University, the University of Exeter, and Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union have issued a joint statement to students confirming that there are currently no confirmed incidents of drink spiking in Falmouth.
It said: “We are aware of and concerned about the reports of incidents of alleged spiking, either in drinks or by physical means, both locally and across the country.
“Drink spiking is a crime, and where alleged incidents are flagged to the police or to the university, these will be treated extremely seriously.
“No-one should feel unsafe when enjoying a night out or be subjected to any action that places them at personal risk. Devon and Cornwall Police, local licensed premises and the Universities are working together to reinforce safety measures and schemes across the local area, and to ensure that the concerns within our student community are heard.
“Falmouth and Penryn are very safe places to live, including for those who enjoy its various venues, bars and clubs. Reported incidents of spiking are low, not just locally but also across Devon and Cornwall. However, even one such incident is one too many.”
It added: “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 universities will provide all the necessary support for anyone who has been affected, via our student support service.”
Free personal alarms and drink spiking kits are available from Glasney Lodge, the Compass helpdesk, SU office, security, and Stannary Bar. Additionally, the SafeZone app allows students to signal emergencies and share their location on campus to relevant staff.