'We need the culture to change' - Ipswich spikings prompt strong reaction

Zoe Cutting, owner of The Moloko cocktail bar and tapas restaurant on Lion Street in Ipswich. Pictur

Zoe Cutting, owner of The Moloko cocktail bar and tapas restaurant on Lion Street in Ipswich, has called the safety of guests 'paramount' - Credit: Danielle Booden

Reports of needle spiking in Ipswich have prompted additional welfare measures at venues in town, as activists say the responsibility should not fall to women and revellers to protect themselves. 

Suffolk Constabulary said that three spiking reports were made at two separate venues - Revolution and Bar 21 - over the weekend of October 30. 

Two of the reported incidents included use of a needle, while the other was an alleged drink spiking. 

Isobelle Booth, from Suffolk Rape Crisis and Reclaim the Night Ipswich, said: "We at Suffolk Rape Crisis were shocked to hear about the reported spikings happening in town. 

"It's disappointing to still see violence of this kind and we encourage people to think about the connection of these incidents to violence against women as a whole - spiking can fit into a much wider context. 

"The responsibility of staying safe is not on women and it's good to see venues taking this seriously with measures, but more needs to be done to deal with perpetrators. 

"We can hear over and over that women are responsible for holding onto their drinks at all times, but there's no protection against a needle on nights out - and hearing that these incidents are escalating, in number and to people of different genders - only reinforces the message. People are not to blame for going out and enjoying themselves."

Isabelle Booth is the helpline and volunteer co-ordinator for Suffolk Rape Crisis

Isabelle Booth is the helpline and volunteer co-ordinator for Suffolk Rape Crisis - Credit: Isabelle Booth

Additional measures are being introduced at tapas bar The Moloko, based in Lion Street, in an attempt to minimise the risk of an incident occurring. 

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A spokesperson for the bar said: "The safety of our guests is paramount and it's so unfair that people feel unsafe to go out and enjoy themselves like they should be able to." 

These measures will include enhanced bag checks using a metal detecting wand and further training relating to spiking. 

And DJ and community activist Daniel Harvey said that safety must be "prioritised" for anyone who walks into a venue for a drink. 

He said: "We simply cannot let our guard down. These stories are difficult to stomach and we need to make sure that assumptions aren't being made, because the presentation of symptoms connected to being spiked are similar to being drunk. 

"Several places in town already use their initiative, which is pleasing. Clear signage highlighting safety policies and effective staff training is key. Security teams should work proactively - increasing searches of bags and people on entry - and any incidents should be reported to police by the bars and clubs themselves. 

"This may be extreme but unfortunately it is necessary right now. Collectively it is important that we show zero-tolerance. We need the culture to change and for people to realise that this is a violation, and we should keep our focus always on the perpetrators." 

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