What spiking is and what licence holders can do

What is spiking?

Spiking a drink means putting alcohol or drugs into someone's drink without their knowledge or permission and is illegal. There have also been some reports of needle spiking, where drugs are injected by hypodermic needle.

You might be used to dealing with customers who are drunk. Spiking results in some symptoms which can be mistaken for drunkenness.

If you notice someone has signs of:

  • confusion
  • nausea or vomiting
  • hallucinations
  • disorientation
  • loss of ability to communicate properly
  • paranoia
  • poor coordination
  • unconsciousness

you should consider whether it might be due to spiking.

If the person is with someone who they don't know, this could also be cause for concern.

What should I do if I think someone has been a victim of spiking?

If it's a medical emergency, call for an ambulance.

If they don't want to speak to the police straight away, you can encourage the customer to seek medical help and report it to the police later on 101.

How can I support customers to prevent spiking?

Bristol has launched a drink spiking campaign in partnership with Avon and Somerset Police, licensed premises and the Bristol City Centre BID. The campaign aims to:

  • improve reporting
  • increase prosecutions
  • create a consistent response across licensed premises
  • ensure that victims of spiking are looked after and taken seriously.

The campaign includes:

  • materials display in your venue
  • a drink spiking process guide for venues
  • a video course for staff, how to request drink spiking testing kits

We want to work with venues and partners to improve practices around preventing spiking. Some venues might have conditions on their licence which aren't compatible with good practice on spiking prevention, such as those which restrict drinks being taken outside, meaning people may have to leave their drink unattended.

You could consider requesting removal or amendment of the conditions by way of a variation to your licence.

If you want to remove or amend conditions speak to the responsible authorities first to make sure they don't have any concerns.

What should I do if I think I have been spiked?

  • If it's a medical emergency, call for an ambulance.
  • stay calm
  • report it to the venue and the police
  • try to have a planned journey home with a trusted friend.

If you don't want to speak to the police straight away you can still report it later on 101.

Avon and Somerset Police have urine testing kits. Some drugs stay in your system for less than 12 hours.

Most venues in Bristol have drink spiking testing kits on site. If you suspect your drink has been tampered with, tell venue staff.