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Student Support: Staying Safe on a Night Out

Staying Safe on a Night Out

Whether you're clubbing regularly, or just going to a pub with friends, nights out can be a big part of student life. When you go out, there are a few things you should think about so you can make the most of your nights out at university and stay safe, especially if alcohol's involved.

Planning your night

Before you leave

Where you're going and who you'll meet are probably your top thoughts when you're getting ready. But there are couple things you should do before you're out the door so you're set to have a good night:

  • Make sure you've charged your phone before you leave
  • If you plan on carrying cash, go to the cash-point during the day and avoid using them at night
  • Put your keys, ID and other valuables somewhere you won't lose them
  • Don't keep your wallet in your back pocket
  • If you've brought a bag don't leave it unattended when you're out
  • If you're meeting up at a friend's place first for pre-drinks, be cautious about how much you drink. Drinking alcohol in moderation is fine. But while under the influence of alcohol you can make yourself vulnerable and more likely to be a victim of crime
  • Be wary of inviting strangers to your home for pre-drinks (or at the end of the night). Remember, too much alcohol affects your normal everyday decisions which can put you at risk or into trouble.

Stay with friends

It might seem obvious, but sticking with your mates in a packed bar can be trickier than it looks. Here's some advice to help you and your friends stay connected:

  • Use licensed taxis/cabs and pre-book your journey 
  • Tell your friends where you're going before you head off to the loo/toilet or the bar
  • Take someone with you when you split from your group of friends
  • Have a groupchat with your mates so you can stay in touch throughout the night if one of you goes to the bar
  • If you notice you haven't seen a friend for a while, send them a message in the group chat
  • Head home together and make sure everyone knows how and when each of you are getting home.

Keep yourself safe

Respecting others

A few drinks will affect your decision-making and perception skills. What you want may not be what someone else wants.

Everyone deserves to have their boundaries respected, and there are some simple rules to live by:

  • Always treat everyone you meet with respect
  • Be conscious of how people respond to you on a night out – if someone doesn't want to talk to you or you're making them uncomfortable take the hint and leave them alone
  • It doesn't matter how much you or others have had to drink, never touch someone without their consent
  • If you or someone you know has been treated inappropriately, try to diffuse the situation and move the people involved to safety. Avoid situations that have become hostile always walk away - this de-escalates the situation and keeps you safe
  • If you continue to feel unsafe you can always let venue staff know and they can help you as best they can.

Getting home safe

How you get home might be one of the last things you think about when planning a night out. It's good to plan your journey home, or have a couple of options in mind depending on where the night takes you.

If you've met someone on your night out, think about the risks of inviting them back to your place or staying at theirs. Make sure you're confident that you'll be safe and have a way of getting home afterwards.

Getting a cab or bus home is safer than walking, so make sure you have money to get home. Never accept a lift from a stranger.

Walking home safely

We wouldn't recommend getting home on foot, even if it's only a short distance. But if you're set on walking home there are steps you can take to make sure you arrive safely:

  • Don't walk alone
  • Stick to open, well lit areas and walk with purpose
  • Walk on the oncoming traffic side of the pavement so you're fully aware if a car stops near you
  • Call and chat to a friend while you're walking home alone
  • Carry a personal attack alarm for emergencies

If you think you're being followed, cross the road and see if you're still followed. Try and stop at a busy area like a petrol station, pub or takeaway, and phone the police on 999. If you would like to speak with anyone about any of the above, or staying safe in general, during office hours please contact Student Services or the Student Union. 

Drink Safety

Drink safety

If you are drinking alcohol, having a couple drinks throughout the night isn't a worry. But overdoing it on the beers or having several shots isn't safe.

Here are a few tips when it comes to drinking safely:

  • Eat before you drink so your body can better process your drinks 
  • Pace out your drinks – if you want to keep track of what you're drinking you can check out the Drinkaware drinks calculator
  • Don't accept a drink from someone you don't know 
  • Avoid mixing different types of drinks, if you're drinking beer or wine stick to just the one 
  • Drink water or soft drinks throughout the night and if you're feeling too drunk 
  • Recognise the signs that you or one of your friends is drunk – slurred speech, blurred vision, losing balance 
  • If one of your friends has had a bit too much to drink make sure to get them some water and fresh air to help them sober up
  • Avoid drinking and swimming – alcohol numbs your senses and can make it more difficult to get yourself out of trouble
  • No "minesweeping" – collecting unattended or near empty drinks – you don't know what's in those drinks or who's mouth has been on it
  • As a whole, drugs consumed in a drink or otherwise isn't safe – you should never consume an unknown substance (whether its food a drink or a drug) as the consequences of doing so could be life threatening. 

Drink and needle spiking

Drink spiking is where something is added to your drink, usually either alcohol or drugs, without your knowledge.  This is usually done to make the victim more vulnerable to things including theft, sexual assault or it can be seen as an attempted joke. There is unfortunately a risk of drink spiking when you're out. So always keep your eye on your drink and don't leave it unattended. If you need to go to the loo/toilet, ask your friends to watch your drink.

There are increased reports of people being injected with drugs, via needles, without their knowledge or consent. It’s believed that the same drugs are being used, as those used in drink spiking, as the symptoms are very similar.

It’s very serious and it is illegal to spike someone’s drink or inject them without their knowledge. The maximum sentence for someone found guilty of drink spiking is 10 years in prison. Victims of drink and needle spiking are not at fault and the responsibility for it, lies solely with the perpetrators.

The effects of drink spiking and spiking by injection vary depending on what you’ve been spiked with. Symptoms could include:

  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Loss of balance
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Visual problems
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Bruising and pain around the puncture wound (spiking by injection).

If you or your friends are showing any symptoms of drink spiking or spiking by injection, there are a few things you can do:

  • Tell a bar manager, bouncer or member of staff
  • Stay with them and keep talking to them
  • Call an ambulance if their condition deteriorates
  • Don’t let them go home on their own
  • Don’t let them leave the venue with someone you don’t know or trust
  • If possible, try and prevent them drinking more alcohol as this could lead to more serious problems.

If you would like to speak with anyone about any of the above, or staying safe in general, during office hours please contact Student Services or the Student Union. 

Support websites

See the links below for further advice: