We are getting closer to Christmas and many people will be planning nights out with friends and work colleagues at venues across Essex over the next few weeks.
And while we want everyone to enjoy themselves, we and the hospitality sector also want people to stay safe and look out for each other. In the last five weeks (1 November to 6 December) we have had 51 reports of drink spiking made to us.
Sadly, we have seen for the first time, six reports of spiking via injection. Whilst we do not want people to be alarmed, the numbers are small compared with the number of people enjoying a safe night out, we are asking everyone to take some sensible steps to ensure they stay safe on their nights out.
Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow said: “Our town centre teams and licensing officers work closely with all our venues and with local authorities’ licensing teams to make sure Essex is a safe place for people to socialise, especially as we move into the festive season.
“The hospitality industry in Essex also takes this issue very seriously and works closely with us, supporting our initiatives to keep their venues as safe as possible for all their customers. We will continue to support them in taking any preventative measures they can to support safe nights out.
“We take all incidents of spiking extremely seriously. Across south Essex, we already have a highly visible policing presence in towns on busy evenings, but we also have officers in plain clothes and we are also using reporting trends to best focus our resources, in order keep people safe. In fact, you will see this happening across we work to ensure your safety.
“It is important to note spiking incidents are rare, but we would always urge people who are out enjoying our lively venues to look out for each other.
“It is never the fault of the person who’s had their drink spiked, and our focus is on catching those responsible. Anyone who thinks they can do this should realise there are very serious consequences to their actions and we won’t hesitate in arresting anyone we suspect of carrying it out.
“There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of having a drink tampered with, such as never taking a drink that you haven’t seen being prepared in front of you, not leaving your drink unattended, even for a moment, and if it doesn’t taste right, don’t finish it.
“The top priority of everyone involved is the safety of the people using pubs and clubs across south Essex.”
Chief Supt Anslow added: “Please also think ahead about how you’re getting home. Taxis can be in short supply at this time of year and it’s important to book ahead.
“If at any point you or one of your friends begin to feel unwell, seek help immediately from someone you trust. In the first instance tell the venue and if you see one of our officers, please speak to them. We have plans in place to help if this happens.
“And just as our officers will be out on patrol, some of our voluntary organisations may be in the local area to help anyone who needs support and advice.
“Above all, please look out for your friends and be a good drinking buddy.”
For more advice on protecting yourself from crime, visit our advice pages.