Action is needed to tackle ‘spikes’, drugs and a ‘chronic shortage’ of bar and club staff, according to a report discussed by Lancaster City Council.
Recommendations include training venues to deal with customers and increasing the number of women as security personnel at night venues. Other recommendations include requiring all music festival workers, including vendors, to be trained in doping. Councilors also discussed the launch of a major anti-peak advertising campaign in the nightlife, education and health sectors. The new report highlighted the “devastating consequences” of doping, which can also carry a 10-year prison sentence.
But victims should also be encouraged to report incidents to the police. Councilors on the City Council’s Licensing Committee who make decisions on the management of bars, clubs, restaurants, events and festivals across Lancaster and Morecambe have received the Government’s update on doping and licensing responsibilities during from their last meeting.
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The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee produced the new report with recommendations. And a government minister, Kit Malthouse MP, contacted all local council licensing committees about doping. The developments follow an increase in suspected spike incidents in Lancashire and across the UK last fall.
A report to the Lancaster Licensing Committee said: “An investigation has been launched by the Home Affairs Committee following a sudden increase in the number of doping incidents across the country in October 2021 and reports of of a new form involving people stuck with a needle. ”
A survey was conducted among people who had suffered or witnessed doping. Nearly 1,900 victims and more than 1,400 witnesses responded.
The report adds: “No one knows how widespread doping is, whether through alcohol, drugs or needles, and no one knows what drives perpetrators to do it. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is widespread and dangerous, and that many people, especially young people, especially women, are affected by it and fear being doped on a night out.
“A lack of accurate data, however, makes it impossible to judge accurately how widespread or dangerous doping is. Policy initiatives to reduce both spikes and fear of them cannot be well-founded or well-targeted. without reliable evidence.
City Council Licensing Officer Jennifer Curtis told councillors: ‘Earlier this year we were contacted by some councilors about reported peak incidents in Lancaster. We then spoke to counselors in a webinar session with the police and got some context on what was going on. We looked into what was going on with the drinks and if there was a secondary offence? There was also a national doping investigation and this report sets out the findings and requirements. »
Advisors to the Licensing Committee should keep abreast of all the latest legal information on doping detection and prevention. and promote good practice in venues and events, they were advised. The ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme is already in place, where people in need of help or support can simply ‘Ask for Angela’ in a bar and a trained member of staff will assist them.
Union counselor Jason Wood said some of the actions recommended were time-limited and asked if more reports or investigations would be done before the licensing committee or officers looked into the issues further.
Ms Curtis said: “Our licensing team will continue to educate licensees and venues about doping through their ongoing work. This could include pub watch programs, checking that bar staff put lids on drinks where appropriate, and having wellness policies if people get sick on the premises? We will seek a proactive approach.
Licensing committee chairman, union adviser Colin Hartley, said: ‘If there were any issues with a local locally, we could withdraw a license and take action.’
However, Ms Curtis replied: ‘To reassure you, there are no specific premises in this area that we are particularly concerned about.’