Staying safe on nights out

Drinks and bottles on a dimly-lit bar
Drinks and bottles on a dimly-lit bar

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.
  • 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 
  • Confusion 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Unconsciousness 

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. 

  • 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:  

  • Let venue staff know if you are at an event. 
  • Useful links 

    • University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT (0) 20 7679 2000