REPORTS of drink-spiking in nightclubs are being carried out by ‘abhorrent’ people and are part of wider pattern of violence against women and girls, Durham City’s MP said last night.

Mary Foy agreed with critics that Durham University’s awareness campaign, #DontGetSpiked, was ‘misguided’ and sent out the wrong message.

Now nightclubs across the country are being boycotted, as part of a ‘Girls Night In’ movement, to make owners offer more protection to customers.

Durham University was accused of ‘victim shaming’ in its advice to students who may fall victim to someone slipping a date rape drug into their drink.

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The now-deleted tweet said: “Drink Spiking is dangerous and something that you can prevent from happening to you and your friends. #dontgetspiked/ Contact the police as soon as possible in a suspected case so an investigation can be conducted and others protected.”

Students reacted angrily to the post.

Durham Students’ Union President Seun Twins said: “This victim-blaming messaging is extremely dangerous. What was this supposed to achieve other than to divert attention away from predators and predatory behaviour?”

Jonah Graham, Durham SU Welfare and Liberation Officer added on Twitter: “The uni should help students to stay safe (e.g. providing drink covers) and report incidents without insensitively blaming victims.

“All guilt lies with perpetrators - the primary focus must be on them.”

The Northern Echo:

Mary Foy MP

Ms Foy said women have the right to safely enjoy the bars and clubs in the city.

She said: “Individuals perpetrating these crimes are abhorrent, and sadly this behaviour fits within a wider pattern of violence against women and girls which must be eradicated from our society.

“The #DontGetSpiked hashtag was certainly deeply misguided.

“While we should be taking every action to protect women at risk, but we should never lose sight of the reality that women are the victims of these assaults and not to be blamed for them.

“I would like to assure female students that I will be making my feelings known to the Vice Chancellor on this matter, as well as offering every assistance to ensure that spiking is clamped down on and the culprits punished.

“It is imperative that we shine a spotlight on this vile act and I will be calling on the university, police, pubs, bars and nightclubs to take every action necessary to protect women from spiking.”

Advice given to students includes watching drinks being poured, not leaving drinks unattended and not accepting drinks from strangers.

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A Durham University spokesperson said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our students is our first priority and we take students’ concerns very seriously. We continue to work with our partners and student leaders to ensure students have the right information and guidance on staying safe during nights out.”

Last month Essex police began investigating a possible serial drink spiker after 12 victims fell ill over an eight-week period.

Durham University’s campaign advice focussed on drink spiking but concerns have been raised about victims being spiked with syringes with cases reported in Edinburgh, Nottingham, Dundee, and Liverpool.

Victims say they have been pierced with a needle in their leg, hands, and back and woke up with no recollection of the night before, but with a pinprick mark surrounded by a giant bruise.

Durham Constabulary said there were no reported cases in the force area.

Inspector Phil Carter said: “We are aware of posts circulating on social media regarding spiking incidents involving injections, but so far have not received any reports of such incidents occurring in County Durham and Darlington.

“We understand the concerns that people – in particular, students – have around their safety and the night-time economy. We are committed to doing everything we can to make our county a safe place for everyone, and are working closely with licensed premises, local authorities, Durham University, and students to help people stay safe.

“Drink spiking is a serious offence, and we will always take any reports of this type of crime seriously – if you believe you been a victim of drink spiking, report it to us on 101 or 999, and seek medical attention immediately.”

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