'Spiking database' is flooded with 160 reports in NINE days

‘Spiking database’ is flooded with 160 reports in NINE days as more women share pictures of injuries and puncture wounds after being ‘spiked by injection’ in nightclubs

  • A ‘spiking database’ has been flooded with 160 reports in just nine days  
  • Students set up Spike Report to help people ID which venues might be unsafe 
  • Juliet McGeough shared a photo of a puncture wound after night in Reading
  • Kacey Edgar-Hedges in Swansea felt ‘pin-prick’ before she went to hospital
  • Juliet McGeough shared a photo of a puncture wound in her back after she went to Revolution in Reading, Berkshire

    Juliet McGeough shared a photo of a puncture wound in her back after she went to Revolution in Reading, Berkshire

    A ‘spiking database’ has been flooded with 160 reports in nine days, as more women share pictures of injuries and puncture wounds after being ‘spiked by injection’ in clubs and bars on nights out.  

    Masters students Elysia O’Neill and Della Claydon, from Wakefield, set up public database Spike Report to help people identify which venues might be unsafe amid a recent spate of spikings by injection.

    In the nine days since it was started, Spike Report has received 160 reports of drink spikings and injections from Leeds as well as dozens of other cities in the UK – and even one case in Austria.     

    The site has been visited more than 17,000 times already with more reports added every day. One venue in Newcastle has already contacted Spike Report for help in identifying a suspect mentioned on their site. 

    It comes as Juliet McGeough shared a photo of a puncture wound – a wound commonly associated with spiking via injection – in her back on Facebook after she went to Revolution in Reading, Berkshire.  

    Another student in Swansea – Kacey Edgar-Hedges, 18 – says she felt a ‘pin-prick’ in her arm in Fiction nightclub shortly before she was rushed to hospital after her limbs went numb and she started shaking.  

    Thames Valley Police is investigating the incident in Revolution, while South Wales Police said the force has received similar reports of ‘spiking’ over the past few weeks which are also being investigated.  

    The National Police Chiefs’ Council said there were around 200 reports of spiking in September and October across various parts of the UK. 

    It comes as campaign group Girls Night In calls for clubs to be boycotted until they better protect women from the crimes. 

    Kacey Edgar-Hedges

    Kacey Edgar-Hedges with friends

    Kacey Edgar-Hedges (left and right, with friends) says she felt a ‘pin-prick’ in her arm in Fiction nightclub shortly before she was rushed to hospital after her limbs went numb and she started shaking

    Revolution in Reading, Berkshire, where Juliet McGeough says she was spiked

    Revolution in Reading, Berkshire, where Juliet McGeough says she was spiked

    Victims have become violently ill while out and only realised they had been injected when they found 'pin prick' marks on their bodies (file image)

    Victims have become violently ill while out and only realised they had been injected when they found ‘pin prick’ marks on their bodies (file image)

    Teenager, 19, who was ‘spiked’ in a nightclub says police and medics treated her like ‘just another drunk student’ after her pulse stopped and friends gave her CPR for 20 minutes when she drank three vodka Red Bulls 

    A teenage aspiring police officer who said she was spiked in a nightclub has claimed she was treated like ‘just another drunk student’ after her pulse stopped forcing her friends to perform CPR for 20 minutes.

    Rhiannon Smith, 19, says she drank three single vodka Red Bulls at Alpine Club Lodge in Ormskirk, Lancashire, on October 22 when her hearing suddenly became muffled and the room began spinning.

    When she was taken home by friends she claims they saw her lips were blue, her pulse had ‘stopped’ and she was only taking breaths every 20 seconds, so called 999.

    Emergency responders ordered them to start ‘life-saving’ chest compressions, which they did for 20 minutes, before she was rushed to hospital by ambulance.

    After waking up in Southport and Formby District General A&E around 4am the next day Rhiannon said she was shocked to hear medics tell her ‘she’d just drank too much’ without running urine tests.

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    Miss O’Neill, 24, said: ‘We came up with a post with all sorts of policy changes we think the Government and venues need to implement and one of those things was a publicly viewable spiking incident database that people can use to stay informed.

    ‘A couple of days later we said, ”well actually why don’t we do it”.

    ‘One of the common things with spiking is the venue doesn’t take it seriously and that has a domino effect so only one in ten people that are spiked report it to police.

    ‘There is a massive problem with people feeling they’re not believed or taken seriously so for the Spike Report to be a way for people to legitimise what happened is a massive thing.

    ‘We’ve had feedback from people who have said, thank you I actually feel like I’ve been listened to.’

    Miss Claydon, 25, added: ‘We will run a focus group where we will ask people what would make them feel safe so the portfolio would come from different people who have had different experiences up and down the country.

    ‘We will then put that together and then go back to them and say, ”what do you think of this”.’

    In a Facebook post, Miss McGeough said: ‘Last night (November 6) I went to Revolution in Reading and was spiked through my back.

    ‘Just thought I’d make people aware that this is going on in Reading. Police are aware and know it’s an issue, so scary this is even a thing.’

    A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that this incident has been reported to us. An investigation is ongoing and we would ask anyone with information to please call 101 reference 43210503124.’ 

    It comes as Miss Edgar-Hedges was rushed to hospital after she felt a ‘sharp pain, like a pinch’ on the inside of her upper right arm while out with friends in Swansea’s Fiction nightclub on October 21.  

    A petition launched to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry has already gained more than 130,000 signatures

    A petition launched to make it a legal requirement for nightclubs to thoroughly search guests on entry has already gained more than 130,000 signatures

    What do the experts say on reports of injection spiking? 

    Is it possible?

    Yes – and there are credible reports where people have woken up with needle marks having been spiked.

    But the likelihood of it being a widespread phenomena is ‘deeply improbable’, according to one medical consultant. 

    David Caldicott, an emergency medicine consultant and founder of drug testing project WEDINOS, told VICE News: ‘The technical and medical knowledge required to perform this would make this deeply improbable. 

    ‘It’s really hard to stick a needle in someone without them noticing, especially if you have to keep the needle in there for long enough, maybe 20 seconds, to inject enough drugs to cause this.’

    Could someone not give the injection really fast?

    Yes – but they’d need a very powerful drug to do so discreetly, experts say.

    GHB is one of the most well-known ‘date rape’ drug and is also self-administered in small doses by people recreationally.

    But Guy Jones, senior scientist at drugs charity the Loop, told VICE it would be a ‘poor candidate’ for injection because of the large amounts of fluid needed. 

    ‘Therefore (it would require) a thick, painful needle. This means that the substance involved would be something that would be highly detectable for several days in a toxicology screening,’ he said.

    Adam Winstock, director of the Global Drug Survey, added: ‘There are very few easily accessible drugs / medicines that could be given intramuscular in a small enough volume that people would not notice and the effects would take some time to come on. 

    ‘What you see in the movies is not reality. People need to keep their drinks close to them, avoid taking them from strangers and keep an eye out for their mates.’

    Can drugs be administered to any part of the body?

    Yes – but some parts are more effective than others

    Mr Jones told VICE: ‘Where drugs can be injected non-intravenously, there are specific injection sites that do not work well.

    ‘The back is one of these unsuitable sites due to the low fat-muscle content, and high concentration of pain receptors.’

    What about drink spiking?

    While injection spiking is still possible, drink spiking is a lot more common.

    Incidents of drink spiking in the UK increased by 108 per cent between 2015 and 2018, with 179 incidents taking place in 2017 alone. 

    This is only the officially recorded numbers – and is likely to be much higher as it is common for people not to report it to police.

    Charity Drinkaware advise: ‘Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know and if they’re available, use drink stoppers, which can be purchased online, for the top of your bottle.’ 

    Rohypnol (or Roofie) and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) are the most commonly known ‘date-rape’ drugs.

    Recreational drugs like Ecstasy, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Ketamine and other ‘party-drugs’ are sometimes used to spike alcoholic drinks. 

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    The first year Swansea University student said the incident has left her feeling ‘extremely anxious’ about going out, and suspects that she was spiked by injection inside the club.

    Miss Edgar-Hedges said:  ‘It took me about three days after the spiking to get a good nights sleep. 

    ‘I felt really scared to be alone and felt completely vulnerable so didn’t want to fall asleep in case anything happened. 

    ‘I’ve been extremely anxious to go out after this, and I think it’s something that will never really go away – it’s just something I’m learning to control. 

    ‘Thankfully, my group of friends have been amazingly supportive and patient with me, and they do go out of their way to help me feel safe.’

    She has called on bars and nightclubs to enforce stricter entry checks to prevent incidents like this from happening.

    ‘Clubs need to get on top of restrictions and checks as unfortunately there’s not enough of these going on,’ she said. 

    ‘Bag checks and searches should be performed on all genders – even minor checks could save so many people from this sort of thing happening to them.’

    Fiction nightclub in Swansea issued a statement stating they have introduced new measures to tackle the problem, including metal detector arches.

    A spokesman said: ‘Everyone should feel safe on a night out, and they should feel safe in our club.

    ‘We are the most regulated part of the hospitality sector; we work hard to create a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment so that all our guests can enjoy a fun night out and will do everything we can to protect this right.

    ‘While these incidents are incredibly rare, we take all reports of drink spiking very seriously. 

    ‘Our teams are fully trained on the issue and have the support of our onsite medics, we operate our ”We Care” policy and support the ”Ask Angela” scheme. 

    ‘We are offering anti-spiking devices to all of our guests and operate 100 per cent searches on entry, which also includes ID scanners and metal detector arches.

    ‘We have extensive CCTV coverage throughout the venue and our security teams wear bodycams and we will pass on footage to the police to help with any investigation. Anyone who is suspected of spiking will be detained and handed over to the police.

    ‘We would encourage anyone who sees suspicious behaviour, or suspects they have been a victim of spiking, to seek immediate assistance from a member of staff or security, who are trained to help and who also have the support of our onsite first aiders. 

    ‘We would also encourage them to contact police and seek medical advice, so that any allegation can be properly investigated.’ 

    Assistant Chief Constable Jenny Gilmer said: ‘South Wales Police is aware of public concern around reports of spiking in towns and cities around the UK. Spiking is when alcohol or drugs are put into someone’s drink without their knowledge or permission. 

    ‘There is also some concern at the possibility that people are being ‘spiked’ by needles or syringes containing drugs.

    ‘We have received reports from people who believe this might have happened to them and these are currently under investigation. 

    ‘The nine reports range from the person reporting feeling a pin-prick or experiencing soreness or a mark to the arm.

    ‘Our officers are working with licensed premises to alert them to spiking methods and asking them to be extra vigilant at this time. We take all reports seriously and encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim of spiking in any form to contact us.

    ‘South Wales Police has an excellent history of partnership working and we provide training to staff at city centre licensed premises to help them identify and safeguard vulnerable people and we regularly see examples of where this training has paid off.’

    Reports of spiking via injections have become increasingly common in recent weeks. Last month, University of Reading chiefs warned ‘spikers’ they could be thrown out if they are caught drugging students in clubs.

    This came after the university was made aware of several reports of spiking and reports that students have received puncture wounds as a result.