By Rebecca Tierney
The campaign to draw attention to women’s safety on nights out after a series of spiking incidents will lead a Scotland-wide boycott of nightclubs tonight (Thursday).
Girls Night In – rebranded Big Night In to be more inclusive – was launched by students after reports of women being spiked by injection on nights out in cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Nottingham.
Police Scotland have confirmed they are investigating a spiking incident on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow last week.
The campaign has its roots in Edinburgh, but there are now Girls Night In groups operating in more than 30 UK cities. The organisers are urging women in Scotland to avoid clubs today (Thursday) to protest “nightclubs enabling spiking”.
An Instagram post from the Edinburgh-based group urged partygoers to host flat parties or gatherings in safe environments to “show the disgusting human beings that are spiking people and local clubs that we do not need clubs to have a good time”.
Reports of spiking have doubled in the past three years. Most victims are young women. Girls Night In was started by university students as a response to the recent epidemic of spiking in clubs and pubs across the UK.
Joscelin Story, a co-founder of the Girls Night In movement in Leeds, highlighted the “irony” of asking women to stay at home in the name of female empowerment: “The reality seems to be that, until businesses see a potential loss in revenue, the issue of women’s safety will not be taken seriously.”
The closing of many venues across the country this evening has called into question the reasoning behind their solidarity. One Twitter user condemned these venues for subverting the cause.
Martha Williams, the founder of the first branch of the campaign, said she hoped the boycott would “give the nightclubs a reality check that people don’t feel safe”.
She added: “There is so much more that nightclubs can do that they aren’t doing.”
Glasgow’s Sub Club said they have a “zero tolerance policy to all forms of predatory behaviour” and that their number one priority is the welfare of their customers. They said: “In line with Glasgow City Council licensing policy, it is a condition of entry to the Sub Club that customers must submit to a search if requested to do so.
“We always deploy more than the mandatory number of stewards to ensure there is at least one male and one female within the main club area as well as a fully secure presence at the door, and there are normally at least two female stewards on duty.
“We can provide protective covers for drinks at the bar on request, and our glass collectors operate throughout the club removing all drinks that are left unattended.”
Hannah Thomson, 24, of Glasgow, set up a petition calling for compulsory searches at nightclubs after seeing a report about a woman being spiked in Edinburgh. The petition has garnered more than 100,000 signatures, a response that Hannah says is “so much bigger” than she thought. She said she thought these searches could be carried out by metal detectors and pat-downs.
Police Scotland is currently investigating reports of spiking by needle in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, though the force said they did not think the cases were related.