Spiking warning in bars and clubs after woman is ‘assaulted with needle’ in Exeter

Police have issued a warning over spiking in bars and nightclubs after a woman was ‘assaulted with a needle’ in Exeter.

Officers are investigating an attack at Fever and Boutique, in Mary Arches Street, late on Saturday, October 16, and are appealing for information.

The force says it is working with licensed premises across the region following a rise in the concerns over drink-spiking and women being attacked with needles.

It added the incident in Exeter is the only one of its kind it is currently aware of in Devon and Cornwall.

Drink-spiking testing kits are also being made available in bars across the region, with urine testing kits kept in all police stations.

Superintendent Antony Hart, local policing commander for Exeter, East and Mid Devon, said: “There has been a lot of media and social media coverage in relation to drink-spiking, plus the understandable fear following a woman being attacked with a needle in a bar in Nottingham.

“We are investigating an incident in Exeter and progressing enquiries to identify and arrest those responsible.

“Whilst assaults using needles are very rare, we ask that people are vigilant when in crowded spaces and notify premises staff or police of any suspicious behaviour.

“This incident has also raised the wider issue of drink-spiking and what can be done to combat this.

“Women must be able to feel safe across all aspects of their lives and that includes when out socialising.

“Those who think it’s acceptable to assault women, whether that be verbally, subjecting them to physical attacks or by drink-spiking, must be challenged and will be brought to justice where a criminal offence has been committed.

“We are asking for the public to help us to tackle this issue head-on. That means if you have witnessed something suspicious in a bar, then you must report this to door and bar staff immediately.

“We also need people who believe they have been spiked or assaulted to come forward to door staff and the police as soon as possible.

“Not only does this give us the best chance in catching those responsible, but it will also allow us to get medical treatment for the victim at the earliest opportunity.”

Devon and Cornwall Police says it is leading the way nationally after launching an anti-drink-spiking initiative following a successful trial in Plymouth in 2019.

Sergeant Dave Moore, from the force’s licensing team, said: “These kits allow bar staff to test a person’s drink to see if it has been interfered with.

“If it has, this allows evidence to be secured and medical assistance given to the victim. This can also help give peace of mind if the drink comes back clear from tampering.

“Bars who are part of the Best Bar None scheme, Pubwatch and all late-night venues across Devon and Cornwall have been supplied with these drink testing kits.

“Any other bars who wish to have access to these kits can contact the police licensing team and they will be supplied to them.

“We also have urine testing kits for use by police officers at police stations around the force which can be used for up to three days after the consumption of the drink to test for evidence of spiking.

“We will work closely with the evening and night-time economy to ensure bar and door staff are fully aware of the correct steps to take if a customer has concerns about their drink being spiked.

“These incidents are rare but are simply unacceptable. Please continue to look out for each-other and to report these matters to the police and together we will stop this predatory behaviour.”

Anyone with information on the incident in Fever and Boutique on October 16 is urged to call police on 101, or email 101@dc.police.uk, quoting crime reference CR/090910/21.

More advice on personal safety can be found here.

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