Journalist shares daughter's harrowing account of club injection fears

Priti Patel orders urgent update from police on spiking epidemic – as young women have taken to wearing ‘DENIM jackets that are harder to pierce’ with needles when out in UK nightclubs

  • Journalist Lucy Ward revealed shocking text from her daughter about spiking
  • Ex-Guardian journalist said women were being targeted by men using needles
  • It comes after student Zara Owen, 19, said she was targeted by needle drugging
  • Teenager said she blacked out after club trip and awoke with needle hole in leg
  • Similar accounts have also been reported in Scottish cities and in Liverpool 
  • The Home Office told Politico that Priti Patel had demanded update from police
  • Have you seen, heard or been targeted through spiking by injection? We would like to hear from your story: Contact [email protected] 

Zara Owen said she found a pinprick on her leg the next day (pictured above). She said she had no hangover, but was suffering a sharp agonising pain in her leg

Priti Patel has today ordered an urgent update from police on the UK’s spiking ‘epidemic’, amid reports that women have been drugged by men using needles.

The Home Secretary has ordered police to update her on the situation, following reports of incidents across the UK.

One 19-year-old student in Nottingham said she had blacked out going clubbing, before waking up to find a pin-prick hole in the back of her leg. 

There have also been reports of incidents in Liverpool and at least two cities in Scotland. 

It comes as women have revealed the measures they are being forced to take because of a spate of nightclub spiking cases involving injections.

Some women say they are now wearing denim jackets in nightclubs and bars because the material is ‘harder to pierce’ with a needle. Others are choosing to wear thick clothing in fear of being spiked. 

Journalist Lucy Ward has shared a message from her daughter revealing the extent of the wider issue of spiking in UK clubs – along with the recent reports of the use of needles.

Taking to Twitter, she said: ‘The epidemic of drinks spiking targeting young women – students and not – in nightclubs has a horrific new variant: injecting women in the back or leg with the same drugs.

‘Young women are going to clubs wearing denim jackets and other thick clothing to try to protect themselves from attackers armed with syringes and an apparent desire to harm young women purely for having fun and freedom.

‘I asked my daughter – first year at a UK university – if she had heard of it and she sent me this.’

As part of the Twitter thread, Ms Ward, a former Guardian journalist, goes on to share the message from her daughter, which details the scale of the problem.

In the message, her daughter reveals how she has knows at least ‘half a dozen girls’ who have been spiked and ‘more who suspect having been’.

She says in the message: ‘The injections thing is the most recent thing they are doing now and people are more scared than ever.

‘But the scariest thing to me is how unsurprised we all are.  We go out in groups, we refuse drinks, we keep our phones on and in our hands.

‘Girls are wearing denim jackets because the material is harder to pierce. We simply accept the latest horror and come up with new ways to protect ourselves, and of course remain weak and vulnerable anyway.’  

One spiking victim Zara Owen (pictured) said she woke up ‘with a limp’ before finding a ‘pinprick’ on her leg the morning after attending Nottingham’s Pryzm nightclub

Ms Ward said students across the country were now holding boycotts of nightclubs in order to persuade nightclubs to take action to better protect women.

Where are the nightclub boycotts taking place? 

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The boycotts are due to take place later this month in cities such as Southampton, Brighton, Bristol, Nottingham, Durham and Belfast.

Ms Ward added: ‘I cannot describe the rage I feel at this (situation). These are simply random acts of extreme harm. 

‘I don’t blame universities – my daughter’s has worked hard to help when students have sought help. But there is a culture here that we must acknowledge and address.’

Priti Patel is now said to have demanded an urgent update form police on the situation. 

A Home Office source told Politico: ‘This is absolutely awful. We have asked for an update from the police on this and would encourage anyone to report this behaviour to the police.’

It comes as a teenager claimed she was spiked by injection inside a Nottingham nightclub amid reports of women also being needled with a suspected noxious substance at venues in the Midlands, the northwest and Scotland.

A 20-year-old man has been arrested by Nottinghamshire Police on suspicion of drug offences and causing or administering a poison or noxious substance following three reports of women being spiked by injection at two nightclubs in the city within the last fortnight.

Women in Liverpool, Edinburgh and Dundee of victims have reported being pierced with a needle in their leg, hands and back before waking up with no recollection of the night before – symptoms similar to those who have had their drinks spiked with

Detectives say they are currently reviewing CCTV footage as well as toxicological reports to identify what substance was contained within the needles.

A police spokesperson added, though, that the force does not believe the incidents are targeted and they are ‘distinctly different’ from anything seen previously due to victims disclosing ‘a physical scratch-type sensation before feeling very unwell’. 

A statement said: ‘This is subtly different from feelings of intoxication through alcohol according to some victims.’ 

Zara Owen, a 19-year-old university student, said she was spiked while out at Nottingham’s Pryzm nightclub on October 11 before waking up the next morning with a limp and a ‘pinprick’ on her leg.

The entrance to Nottingham’s Pryzm nightclub, where Ms Owen claims to have been spiked by a needle amid similar reports elsewhere in the UK

She recalled entering the venue with friends and made her way to the bar, but added that was the last thing she could remember before waking up in her bed the next day.

Ms Owen tweeted: ‘I woke up fine, no hangover or anything but a sharp agonising pain in my leg.

‘I told my mum and she thought it might’ve been a pulled muscle but then I realised I didn’t remember anything.

‘I had to go to campus and I realised I had a massive limp. If my memory was there I would’ve neglected this but this is a thing that never, ever happens to me and it really confused me.

‘I decided to go to hospital to get checked out but after eight hours of only having a triage and background info taken from me, I decided to go home.

‘The next morning I felt my leg and examined it to a further extent as I didn’t get any help medically. I touched the part where I was in the most pain and I found a pinprick. I had been spiked.

‘I was in jeans. A needle went through thick denim straight into my leg.’

Stealth, another Nottingham nightclub, said it had also received reports of two women feeling unwell within the last fortnight as a result of being spiked. 

One 19-year-old woman said she was targeted with a mystery liquid as she left the venue in on October 12.

Ellie Simpson said her sister felt a ‘pinch on the back of her arm’ before blacking out and being taken to hospital, where blood samples were taken.

The entrance to Stealth, another Nottingham nightclub, which says it also received reports of two women feeling unwell as a result of being spiked with needles 

Nottinghamshire Police has said a local male has been arrested, but did not state which incident this is in connection with

Ms Simpson, 21, added that she was ‘in shock’ and her sister had not been out clubbing since the incident took place.

She told the BBC: ‘Normally she’s the type of person that would stick up for herself, so I think if it could happen to her it could happen to somebody who is more vulnerable,  

‘I don’t think it’s quite yet sunk in what’s happened to her.

‘It’s really frightening because I don’t know how you’re meant to prevent it.

‘Obviously you can put your hand over your drink but how do you stop somebody stabbing you with a needle?’  

A statement from Stealth said: ‘We, much like our customers, are concerned by the national news reports about spiking in bars and nightclubs around the UK, and believe it is absolutely unacceptable for women to have tp live in fear of being spiked on nights out.

‘Here at Stealth, in recent weeks two of our customers have reported feeling unwell and suspected they may have been spiked. Both were seen by our on site medic who made sure they were appropriately looked after, were able to safely leave the venue, and we are currently liaising with police to aid in their ongoing investigations.

‘Customer safety is our top priority and our aim is to create a safe environment for people to come together and enjoy a night out.’

Nottinghamshire Police said a local male has been bailed following a report of an incident in Lower Parliament Street on October 16.

The man was arrested on suspicion of possession of class A and class B and cause administer poison or noxious thing with intent to injure, aggrieve and annoy.

A police spokesperson said: ‘We are currently investigating reports of individuals suspecting that their drinks have been spiked.

‘Linked to this a small number of victims have said that they may have felt a scratching sensation as if someone may have spiked them physically. Consequently, we are actively investigating all these reports. 

‘We have a dedicated group of officers currently carrying out CCTV enquires at various venues where we have received such reports.

‘Our enquiries into these incidents are ongoing but we understand people may be concerned about incidents like this and want to reassure the public we are working incredibly hard to investigate.’  

The statement continued: ‘What we need is that if any person experiences such an incident whilst on a night out that they or their friends make contact with us immediately in order that we can investigate at the earliest opportunity and secure evidence quickly.’   

It follows reports from Edinburgh and Dundee, too. Police Scotland said it is also investigating reports of a female being spiked by injection and enquiries were at an early stage. 

Victims have reported waking up with a pinprick surrounded by a giant bruise, as well as no memory of the night before.

Those targeted with needles also carry the risk of shared or unclean needles being used, posing threats of HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. 

One woman who claimed to have been spiked said she now has to go for monthly blood tests following a night out with friends last week.

She tweeted: ‘So after seeing recent posts and thinking back to the weekend when I was out I phoned my doctor who confirmed it’s likely that I was spiked by injection.

“I now need to go for monthly blood tests. Please please just be so vigilant when out. I can’t confirm where it happened sadly.’

Another woman also took to social media to report being targeted with a needle. 

She added: ‘Please be careful on nights out. Last Saturday I was spiked in a club in through an injection in my hand.

‘Luckily I was with people I trust who looked after me, but it was terrifying. I was sober when this happened and it shows protecting your drinks isn’t enough.

‘I don’t remember the evening at all but was very unwell the next few days. Please be careful on nights out and if you do not feel right tell somebody.. Stay safe. X’ 

A petition calling for nightclubs to be legally required to search guests on arrival for weapons and ‘date rape’ drugs has now reached more than 75,000 signatures following the reports.

@Edi_Anonymous, an Instagram page that publishes anonymous submissions, said it had received multiple reports of women being spiked at nightclub venues

It says: ‘There are too many cases of weapons and ‘date rape’ drugs being used in clubs. 

‘It begs the question, why aren’t nightclubs required to do more to prevent harmful items making it into their clubs?’

Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome added that she is in contact with police following Ms Owen’s report of being spiked with a needle.

She tweeted: ‘I’m aware of extremely concerning reports of suspected spiking in Nottingham nightclubs, including by injection, and am in discussion with @nottswomenscent.

‘If you have any information, please get in touch with @nottspolice, @nottswomenscent or me.’

Social media reports also emerged of a woman wearing a backless dress being injected in the back in Liverpool.

However, Merseyside Police said it could not find any evidence ‘that any criminality occurred’.

A spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We have been made aware of a social media post reporting that a woman was injected in the back in a Liverpool city centre nightclub and a report was received by Merseyside Police.

‘We have worked closely with the club and examined CCTV footage. We have fully investigated the matter and we can’t find evidence that any criminality has occurred.

‘No formal statement has been made by the woman and no other persons have come forward.’ 

Larissa Kennedy, president of the National Union of Students (NUS), said: ‘It’s absolutely disgusting that in the past few days a number of students have reported instances of women being spiked on nights out.

‘My rage, love and solidarity goes out to all those who have been impacted by these violent acts, and all other women and marginalised folks who experience sexual violence on our campuses and in our communities.’  

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