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Professor Antony Long, Acting Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our students is our first priority. We work with partners, including the police, council and health service, as well as student leaders, to help our students stay safe.

“Students have reported concerns to us about spiking on nights out, and we take this very seriously. Our Student Wellbeing Team is running a campaign to inform and support students, taking advice from external experts and drawing on materials developed in partnership with them.

“One tweet issued as part of this campaign was wrong and should not have been issued. We apologise for any upset or distress this caused.

“Spiking is both a criminal offence and misconduct within the University.

“We will continue to support students affected by this issue by offering welfare and pastoral support, signposting to specialist services and, where appropriate and where they wish us to do so, working with those subjected to spiking to report any spiking incident to the police so this can be investigated. 

“If it is identified that students have been involved in spiking others, we will pursue this through our internal disciplinary procedures, the outcomes of which include potential expulsion from the University.

“Any students who have experienced any additional form of sexual violence in relation to a spiking incident will be offered our full range of reporting and support options.  We continue to seek feedback from our students and external partners on additional ways we can help prevent and respond to the issue of spiking for our students’ safety.”

Our messaging to students, informed by expert advice, is to:

  • Watch your drink being served.
  • Do not accept drinks from someone you don’t know.
  • Never leave drinks unattended - keep them in your hand or in sight.
  • If your drink tastes odd or you feel really drunk after only a couple of drinks, get help from a trusted friend or a member of bar staff.
  • If you feel unwell, someone you trust should take you to your nearest (A&E) department. Tell the medical staff that you think your drink has been spiked.
  • Contact the police as soon as possible after a suspected incident of spiking.
  • Attend one of the Student Wellbeing Alcohol and Drug Roadshows to pick up you own free spikey (an anti-drink spiking stopper).