New test kits aim to stamp out drink-spiking in town centre bars

Town centre pubs and clubs have been given new test kits to gauge if a drink has been spiked as part of a campaign to make women safer at night.

Funded by Northampton Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID), the kits have been rolled out into a number of town centre venues to reassure revellers that they can enjoy a night out in town in confidence.

The kits can be operated immediately by bar staff once they have been alerted by a customer who fears their drink may have been tampered with. If the test result is positive, Northamptonshire Police will be alerted and can confirm the result by taking a urine sample.

The process means customers can quickly raise the alarm and police can begin their investigations within minutes and boost their chances of catching the offender, rather than having to trawl through hours of CCTV footage the following day.

Mark Mullen, operations manager of Northampton Town Centre BID, said: “It only takes one selfish action to ruin someone’s life and, although drink spiking is thankfully not a big problem here in Northampton, we want everyone to be reassured that our town centre venues are doing all they can to prevent it from happening.

“All venues involved in the project will display posters in their windows and in the toilets explaining what to do if you think your drink may have been tampered with.

“The BID is committed to making Northampton a safe and attractive place to visit and do business. This scheme allows everything to happen that bit quicker, increasing the chances of an offender being apprehended and boosting the hopes of a conviction.”

The test kits will also be used by the town centre Guardians in the SNOvan used in the town centre at weekends.

The initiative is an extension of the ‘It Only Takes One…’ campaign, a partnership between the Office of the Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and West Northamptonshire Council with Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire Rape Crisis and Northampton BID.

The agencies have come together to create a network of measures to make women safer at night by improving physical safety and security, tackling perpetrators, and starting a conversation that helps people call-out abuse.

Work already carried out has included measures to make licensed venues safer and a ground-breaking programme to train venue staff to recognise and tackle predatory behaviour.