Roadshow to spell out spiked drinks risk

THIS weekend a specialist roadshow will target Ipswich clubbers in a bid to make them safer.It will warn them about the very real threat of drug rape.

By Debbie Watson

THIS weekend a specialist roadshow will target Ipswich clubbers in a bid to make them safer.

It will warn them about the very real threat of drug rape. Here, Debbie Watson talks to some of the organisers and asks why such an awareness event is so important.

SEXUAL assault, in any form, is a frightening and devastating crime.

Physically, emotionally and psychologically it has the capability of leaving a victim scarred for life.

To be assaulted is one thing, but to be assaulted in complete oblivion and have little in the way of memory of the crime – that, surely, is potentially even worse.

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Drug rape has sadly become very much a reality in the world of modern day crime.

It may not be common, but, make no mistake, it does exist.

For the last few years the government has been working hard to try and tackle the concern. Its main intention is to try to get a blanket ban on all 'date rape' or 'acquaintance rape drugs' – but that's not easy.

The problem is that there have simply not been enough samples taken from victims to allow experts to identify exactly which drugs are being used by the opportune offenders.

A significant part of solving this problem is to encourage victims to come forward, to report the crime, and to take a drug test there and then.

And therein lies the obstacle.

Awareness about drug rape is still painfully minimal.

This is exactly why Suffolk's crime and health experts are collaborating at the weekend to push the message home.

Tonight and tomorrow night, initiated by the DrugRape Trust, they will be running a roadshow within Cardinal Park, urging clubbers to take note.

"Our main aim is to use the two nights of the awareness roadshow in an effort to make the streets of Ipswich safer," commented campaigner Sarah-Louise Pemberton.

"I got involved with the DrugRape Trust after a colleague of mine went through an experience of drug rape. I felt a need to support the organisation's work, and now I feel very strongly that I want to push the message home to the people of my county."

She added: "We want people to understand drug assisted assault and know that there are ways through which they can better prevent it happening to them or their friend.

"It must be stressed that we don't want to scare anyone in anyway, but people must be aware that drug rape exists."

One of the Suffolk professionals getting involved with the weekend's roadshow is psychiatric liaison nurse Francis Yule.

A sister in Accident and Emergency at Ipswich Hospital, she is insistent that drug rape is a reality.

"We became involved with the Trust after holding a study day at the hospital and hearing from a DCT spokeswoman.

"We decided that an awareness campaign was very important and that we should do whatever we could to get the message across to the local community."

She said: "Working in A&E we have had at least a couple of incidents where drug rape has been considered as having been a possibility.

"We also have other occasions where people come to us quite convinced that their drink has been spiked."

Francis believes that the increase in clubbing and drinking venues in Ipswich makes it even more important that an awareness campaign such as this is held in the town centre.

"There is certainly a greater number of clubs and pubs in our town and it makes a difference to the incidents we see here at the hospital.

"In recent times there has definitely been more and more incidents of people claiming that their drink has been spiked. Because of that there has obviously been reason for increased concern in the area of date rape."

Also getting involved with the weekend roadshow will be members of the Community Drugs Team, Ipswich Police and representatives from the East Anglian Ambulance Trust.

Between 9pm and 2am on both Friday and Saturday the groups will unite in talking to clubbers and handing out leaflets about the terrible potential for drug rape.

"It's a very important subject and something that clubbers owe it to themselves to be educated about – particularly as we get closer to the party season around Christmas," Sarah-Louise added. "This is the chance for Ipswich people to ask questions and have their concerns answered. We would encourage everyone to visit the roadshow."

Weblink:

www.drugrapetrust.org

IF, as an organisation or individual, you are able to financially assist the Roadshow organisers to cover the cost of producing their awareness leaflets, please contact DrugRape Trust on 01702 317695.

DRUG FACTS:

Many of the drugs used in the crime come from one particular family.

Their impact depends on the body mass of the victim, when the person last ate and whether the person is fatigued.

The drug will start to take effect in 15-20 minutes.

They have various names, including: roofies, GHB, Mexican Valium, Ribs, scoop, liquid x.

The signs to watch for are: numbing of lips and tongue, appearing drunk, slurring speech, difficulty in walking, loss of inhibitions.

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