Thousands of revelers and students in Northampton have been warned to stay safe when out drinking this festive season.
A drink spiking awareness campaign launched by Northampton marketing and PR agency Rocket, has gained momentum and support in the town.
The awareness campaign has also been welcomed by Northampton Pubwatch association which will be organising the printing of posters, created by Rocket, for its Pubwatch members to be distributed amongst venues in Northampton town centre.
The awareness campaign, which has already been welcomed by Northamptonshire Police and the McManus Pub Company, was launched after Louise Prickett, an account executive at Rocket, was hospitalised after her drink was spiked on a night out in Northampton with her friends.
Louise’s traumatic experience, featured in the Chronicle & Echo, has helped inspire further support from Northampton’s student sector and businesses including The Richardsons Group.
Thousands of students at the University of Northampton and Moulton College will see the powerful posters created by Rocket.
The drink spiking warning message has also been shared with thousands more via Facebook and Twitter sites.
Chairman of Northampton Pubwatch association, Karim Ayoubi, said: “Whilst the spiking of drinks is thankfully relatively rare, the consequences for the victim can potentially be very serious.
“Whether it is intended as a practical joke or something more sinister, no one can predict how someone will react to an unknown chemical in their system and the consequences can ruin lives.
“It is something we strongly oppose and we have campaigned in the past to raise public awareness. We are sorry to hear of a spiking incident involving a member of Rocket’s staff and welcome their campaign to bring this issue to the fore once more.
“Men should be aware too – drink spiking doesn’t just affect women.
“Christmas is a traditionally busy time for the licenced trade and we hope that all of our customers enjoy a happy – and safe – Christmas. Please don’t leave your drink unattended.”
Jake Richardson, owner/managing director of The Richardsons Group which has several venues in the town including Auntie Ruth’s, The Charles Bradlaugh, The Picturedrome, The Church Restaurant and The Old White Hart, has offered his support to the campaign and said posters will be put up in all their venues.
He said: “We all want a safer and more pleasant Northampton to live, work and play in.
“The Police Commissioner and Chief Constable have stated they want to make Northampton the safest place to live. We want them to achieve their aim and we want to play our part in helping them achieve it.”
PC Singy Bangniuk wanted to support the campaign after reading about it in the Chronicle & Echo.
The Northamptonshire police officer, who is based at Moulton College, has organised for Rocket’s drink spiking warning posters to be displayed digitally on screens throughout the college to help raise awareness among thousands of students.
The powerful posters have also been featured on Moulton College’s social media platforms including its Facebook and Twitter sites urging students to stay safe when they are out.
PC Bagniuk said: “There are more than 3,000 students here at Moulton College. I help give them advice about how to keep themselves safe in every aspect of student life. This includes staying safe on a night out.
“I think the awareness campaign is a great idea. I am keen to support it by passing these important drink spiking awareness messages to students.”
The University of Northampton Students’ Union has also pledged its support to the drink spiking awareness campaign.
Nick Woodward, vice president engagement and participation at the University of Northampton Students’ Union, said of the campaign: “The University of Northampton Students’ Union is committed to ensuring our students are as safe as they can be when out in Northampton and aware of the risks that can be posed on a night out.
“Rocket’s drink spiking campaign clearly highlights the dangers of leaving a drink unattended in a bold and creative way that supports our ongoing responsible drinking efforts, which is why we’re supporting the campaign by displaying their materials in our buildings and on social media.
“Particularly over this festive period when people might be indulging in more drinks that they would ordinarily, the campaign emphasises the importance of watching your drink and being mindful of who you accept drinks from.”
Neil Thompson, managing director of Rocket in Ardington Road, Northampton, said: “It’s great to see the fantastic response and support the drink spiking awareness campaign has received so far.
“It is encouraging that so many local businesses and organisations are working together to help raise awareness about such a serious issue.”
Drink spiking victim Louise, 21, said: “People have been really supportive since hearing about my story. However there is still unfortunately people who, clearly from their responses on social media, don’t understand this issue. I am glad something so positive has come out of my traumatic experience.”
* Any businesses or organisations interested in backing the awareness campaign should contact Rocket on 01604 250900 or email email@example.com