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A spiked drink can turn a harmless night out with friends into an understandably frightening experience, but what happens if you begin to feel unwell when you're at a 900-acre festival site like Glastonbury, surrounded by crowds of unfamiliar faces?
Yep, amid all the loud music and glitter, festivals can prove to be overwhelming spaces at the best of times, and may feel especially scary if you find yourself in a vulnerable position.
Drink spiking is when someone puts alcohol or drugs into your drink without your knowledge or permission, which, in turn can alter how you feel or behave.
It is a serious crime, especially if done with the intention of making someone more vulnerable; under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, it is illegal to administer a substance to someone with 'intent to overpower that person to enable sexual activity with them', an offence that is punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment.
According to TalkToFrank, there are a number of ways you can avoid your drink being spiked:
However, while preventative measures may help, they're not a guaranteed to keep you from harm.
So what are you actually supposed to do if you think you or someone else has had their drink spiked?
Ahead of Glastonbury, Avon and Somerset Police has issued a list of advice for festivalgoers, urging people to speak to an on-site official or seek medical help if they suspect something is wrong.
The force said: “If at any point you believe your own or someone else’s drink has been tampered with alert security or a police officer and seek medical advice either by calling the NHS’ non-emergency number 111 or by visiting one of the on-site medical facilities.
“Adding a substance to someone’s drink without their knowledge or permission is a serious offence and could result in serious harm if the person suffers an adverse reaction.”
Avon and Somerset Police said it adopts the same ‘neighbourhood-style’ of policing practised throughout its communities when patrolling at a festival, and that festivalgoers are encouraged to approach officers.
They added: “If you spot someone acting suspiciously, report it to a police officer or to a member of security staff immediately. Don’t leave it to someone else.”
If you fear that you or a friend may have had a drink spiked, there are a number of places to seek help at the festival, which advises heading to one of the site’s medical facilities - such as a principal unit at Big Ground Medical, smaller units at Park Home and Cabaret and a First Aid Centre at Worthy View.
Glastonbury also has several welfare areas – the three main ones being Worthy Welfare (which has an adjoining cabin housing Somerset & Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support), Green Welfare and The Samaritans – all of which can provide a ‘calm, safe space for anyone who needs to recover’.
If in doubt, approach a ‘Festival steward, Festival Information, a Markets Office, a security person or a police officer, any of whom will be able to summon assistance’.
“Only dial 999 from a mobile phone as a last resort – this may not be the most effective means of getting help on the Festival site,” Glastonbury advises on its website.
“Don’t try to make your way off site to hospital – this may result in very long and possibly dangerous delays in getting treatment.”
You’ll also be able to find help through Festival Medical Services, a not-for-profit charity that has been looking after people for years after being set up at Glastonbury back in 1979.
In its own advice on its website, the charity urged people not to force anyone to drink more than they wish, even if it's meant with the best intentions.
It said: “Look after yourself and each other and stay safe. Never get so drunk that you cannot take care of yourself if you were to get into a difficult situation.
“Never pressure or persuade anyone into drinking (more) if they do not want to.
“Do not share or accept drinks from people who you do not know or trust; buying and pouring your own drinks helps to avoid the risk of drinks being spiked.
“If anyone starts acting inappropriately to you or your friends, don’t be afraid to tell security.”
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, you can contact Victim Support, an independent charity for victims and witnesses of crime which offers free, confidential help to anyone who’s been affected by sexual harassment. Call 08 08 16 89 111 or go to Victim Support's website.
For more information, you can also visit drinkaware.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy/Alamy
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