Here for you’ message ahead of festive celebrations

Nottinghamshire Police is urging people to have fun but stay safe in preparation for one of the busiest nights of partying of the year.

Tonight is set to be one of the busiest nights for the emergency services as people start celebrating the beginning of the Christmas holidays.

More officers will be out patrolling and will be there to help anyone who needs them.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin urged people to stay safe and report anything suspicious to the force by calling 101 or speaking with officers out patrolling the city streets.

“When people go out in Nottinghamshire they can be confident that a range of agencies including the police are working hard in the background to make sure they can have a safe and enjoyable night out,” he said.

“With greater numbers of people expected out in the city centre, we have increased our resources – both uniform and plain clothed.

“It means officers will be close at hand should any member of the public need us.”

The reassurance comes after the force has seen a steady decrease in the number of spiking incidents being reported.

Throughout October and November, the force began to receive a significant number of reports of alleged spiking incidents with people reporting they had been spiked by something sharp - as opposed to a traditional method of contaminated drinks.

Due to the number of reports being received a joint partnership approach was set up to help tackle the issue and plan how best to keep the people of Nottinghamshire feeling safe whilst out in the night-time economy.

The force led from the front in tackling the outbreak of reports and chaired meetings twice a week which was attended by a large number of partners and stakeholders.

These included, representatives from East Midlands Ambulance Service, Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham, Nottingham City Council, licensing, Nottingham Business Improvement District, the

Violence Reduction Unit and others.

Together this strategic partnership discussed the incidents that were being widely reported across clubs in the city centre and developed its joined-up approach.

Since October 2021, the force has received 146 reports of people potentially being spiked by a needle.

During the same time period a total number of 143 incidents were also reported of people potentially having their drinks spiked.

The vast majority of incidents reported were originally focussed on a few of the venues in the city centre however, as the weeks went on the locations of reports widened to include more venues across the city including both pubs and clubs.

Reported offences have also taken place on different days across the city and there is no intelligence to suggest that incidents were being targeted to one specific venue.

The majority of reports have continued to come from women but there have also been reports of men being potentially spiked.

Six of the reports have involved a victim alleging that they have been sexually assaulted following a possible spiking.

None of these six reports involve the victim reporting they have been spiked by a needle.

The force has not received reports of any other offences as a result of possible spikings.

In total nine people have been arrested so far during investigations into reports made to the force.

But to date nobody has been charged.

ACC Griffin said: “I understand that when people see these numbers of reports that it can cause concern.

“However, I want to provide those visiting our city centre with the reassurance that this number is caused in part by increased confidence to report.

“We have consistently asked victims and witnesses to come forward and report to us and others if they either think they have been the victim of a spiking or hold any information that is relevant to this issue.

“Many people have done this and I wanted to give my personal thanks to them.

“Working with our partners we have developed a joined-up response to each and every report to ensure that whenever a victim reports one of these crimes we ensure they get the best medical treatment and support but also that we maximise every opportunity to gather evidence.

“This has involved detectives and paramedics working together as first responders to reports but due to the nature of these offences it has proven quite difficult to establish what has happened in each and every case. None of the offences have been witnessed.

“We have sought the advice and opinion of forensic pathologists on occasion to examine injuries.

“It is perhaps not surprising given the environment in which these offences have taken place (busy night clubs and bars), that our investigations in relation to the cause of any injury has often been inconclusive.

“As part of our immediate response we have used drug testing kits and on some occasions have sent samples for further examination and analysis.

“To date we have only found evidence in one sample of prohibited substances. These were ketamine and cocaine.

“Unfortunately, the time delay, which is often inevitable, between the incident happening and a report to the police can affect the forensic window, which is extremely narrow.

“I therefore really encourage people to report incidents just as soon as they know about them.”

ACC Griffin added: “I would also like to say a huge thank you to all of the partners that have been involved throughout the last few months in responding to the number of reports and working alongside the officers in keeping the people of Nottingham safe.

“The joint effort and seeing each of the organisations come together has shown how key the relationships between the partners in Nottingham and the police are in working together to tackle issues such as spiking.

“Even with the steady decline in cases we will continue to work together to make sure those enjoying their time in Nottingham city centre are kept safe and reassured that our officers will do everything in their power to keep people safe.

“We have worked hard alongside partners to make sure venues and staff members working in the night-time economy are aware of how to report incidents and who they can speak to and this is something that will continue long into the future.

“These reports have shown how important it is to work together and how a joint partnership is essential in keeping people safe and shows just how strong Nottinghamshire Police’s relationship with other agencies is.”

Revellers are also being urged to be mindful that the government has implemented Plan B rules, meaning people are now required to show an NHS Covid Pass showing their vaccination status or proof of a negative lateral flow test to gain entry into night clubs.

City Centre Chief Inspector Amy English, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Our officers have been working incredibly hard alongside partners across the city to ensure that people feel safe whilst out in the night-time economy.

“Along with working with venues to implement more safety measures we have also run numerous Op Guardians in the city centre which focusses on tackling drugs and reducing violence which is often associated with frug use and dealing in the night-time economy.

“Staff working in bars and nightclubs across the city will also benefit from free training on how to improve the safety of women after nearly £300,000 was secured from the Home Office by the county’s police and crime commissioner.

“Even though the reports of spiking’s are declining this doesn’t mean we will stop implementing these reassurance measures and working hard to make sure the public feel safe in the night-time economy.”

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of spiking are still being urged to report it to the police by calling 101, as soon as possible so officers have the best possible chance of carrying out forensic analysis.

Natalie Baker-Swift, head of the Violence Reduction Unit, said: “The multi-agency response, led by Nottinghamshire Police, to the reports of ‘spiking’ during October and November demonstrated how effective partnership working can be when we work together to make our streets feel safe.

“We will continue to keep that momentum going through preventative and enforcement approaches to ensure communities, and women in particular, feel safe when enjoying a night out in Nottingham.”

Officers have also worked closely with representatives from both universities in Nottingham to ensure that students were reassured and aware of the measures being put in place by the force and partner agencies throughout the city.

Muhammad Ali, a community officer for University of Nottingham students’ union, said: “I've welcomed the open and collaborative approach that the police have taken to this issue, and thank them for the work they have done to try and ensure our members are safer in the night-time economy.

“It has been very helpful to be kept up to date with their actions and be able to ask questions to key people involved in the response.

“The approach to working with and supporting venues to improve their safety procedures has been noted and appreciated, and I hope that this work will continue to ensure that safety standards do not regress once the spotlight has been taken off the issue.”

Conor Naughton, Nottingham Trent student union president, said: “The recent reports of drink spiking within Nottingham have been deeply concerning for many students.

“The prompt, comprehensive and empathetic response of the police in these circumstances has been very well received by our members.

“The engagement of student representatives as partners in this process has been very welcome indeed and something that we hope will be continued on future occasions.”

For further advice on spiking please visit the following link - Spiked Drinks | Nottinghamshire Police

Nottinghamshire Victim CARE is able to provide help to any victim affected by spiking.  The team can be contacted on 0800 304 7575 or I'd like to talk to someone... (nottsvictimcare.org.uk)

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