October 2021 saw the publication of figures surrounding drinks spiking. In the previous two months (August & September 2021) the UK recorded almost 200 incidents1 of drinks spiking, a statistic which garnered national public attention in the media. But with this spotlight also came a focus on how the hospitality and leisure industries can help put a stop to crimes such as drinks spiking from occurring. It is also within the sectors interest to try and curb these alarming numbers and prevent it from happening within their venues. Businesses must ensure customers are kept safe whilst on their premises to help promote a positive night-out atmosphere.
Here Alliance Online outline various options businesses have at their disposal to do their part in making customers feel safe whilst enjoying a night out.
Educate your staff
A key aspect in protecting your patrons is to educate your staff to the tell-tale symptoms of being spiked. Your staff will likely be wise to the effects of increased alcohol consumption and as such can read when someone is reaching their limit. But spotting a potential spiking is different as most drugs used present in a rapid manner with the onset of symptoms being typically in 10-15 minutes. These include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination
- Memory loss
If one of your staff members spots a sudden and drastic change in behaviour including any of these symptoms in a short period of time, their drink may have been spiked. Teach your staff to never be afraid to ask someone who is showcasing a sudden change in physical state how they feel, how much they have drunk and when the change came on. Having a defined area where someone who is ill can be taken to one side whilst they are talked to and have their situation assessed is also key.
When it comes to educating staff, we recommend the following protocols:
- Be vigilant of patrons frequenting their establishment. If someone has a sudden change in demeanour or behaviour do not be afraid to question if the person is OK and try to assess how much the individual has consumed.
- Query who they are with. Following the increase in spiking incidents staff are justified in asking individuals they feel may be victims of spiking if they recognise the people who are with them. Just a few quick questions can be enough to establish who knows who and ensure someone is safe.
- Recognise when someone is asking for help. It is crucial your staff can interpret when someone is requesting help whether it be obvious or more subtle. Ensure your staff are aware of the “Ask for Angela” initiative which is implemented in many bars and pubs throughout the UK.
- Don’t be afraid to question suspicious behaviour. If someone is acting bizarrely or appears to be lingering near unattended drinks, staff should feel comfortable in quizzing the person. It may simply be a case of someone watching the drinks for friends or waiting for someone, but it is still best practice to check.
Change the culture
Try to change the night-out culture in your venue. When we say this, we do not mean scare people into doing nothing but watching their drink whilst in your establishment. We mean promote a healthy vigilant atmosphere. Posters highlighting that your staff are watching for any suspicious behaviour will give peace of mind but also encourage people to approach staff if they suspect a potential spiking.
Promoting a culture in your bar or pub which champions safety and watching out for one another will make customers feel more comfortable when in your venue.
Anti-Spiking Bottle Stoppers
We at Alliance Online have been sourcing the market to find innovative solutions from our suppliers who want to help our customers in the hospitality and leisure industries provide assurance to their patrons that their facilities are safe.
One such innovation which has recently flooded the hospitality market is the Spikey range of anti-spiking bottle stoppers. These low-density polyethylene stoppers have a diameter of 2cm making them perfect for most industry standard beer, wine, alcopop and soft drink bottles whilst also benefitting from low warpage too. The basic premise is to simply place the stopper in the bottle and insert a straw. By placing it in the bottle’s neck this forms a barrier between the liquid in the bottle and its external environment meaning other liquids cannot be poured into the bottle keeping the drinker safe.
The presence of such products can put customers minds at ease knowing their drinks are safe from spiking allowing them to relax more and enjoy their night out.
Ask for Angela
One final initiative which is already a nationwide strategy is the “Ask for Angela” scheme. This may not directly prevent spiking but what it does is help to develop a universal code which anyone can use should they feel threatened or unwell in any way. In turn, it helps to promote a feeling of security for individuals whilst they are out. Having posters in all bathrooms containing information surrounding the “Ask for Angela” initiative helps to inform your patrons of what they need to say should they suspect either they or a friend has been spiked. For more information click here.
Pubs should aim to create a partnership with a local taxi firm so they have a “go to” company they know they can contact quickly and efficiently. Equally, a possible conversation with their local police station may also be good practice to ensure your business is up to date with processes when it comes to identifying a potential drinks spiker.
We at Alliance Online appreciate it is difficult to have eyes everywhere in your pub or bar but hopefully the above protocols can help to prevent drinks spiking from occurring in your venue. Keeping you and your customers safe is a priority of ours and we aim to do so with our over 20 years of business experience.
References: 1) The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/oct/23/hundreds-of-uk-drink-spiking-reports-in-the-past-two-months