Access All Areas December 2021 - Page 46

“ Live music is a community , and we can and should be able to look out for each other to prevent sexual violence in the first instance .” - Mel Kelly


Women ’ s safety at live events

Access explores the concerning trend of drink spiking at live events and how the industry is working to combat harassment and ensure women ’ s safety at festivals .
Words : Joe Gallop

An issue that has been widely covered in mainstream media over the past few weeks , drink spiking has put UK nightclubs under immense scrutiny and called into question security measures at other venues .

While it is certainly not a new issue , there has been a rise in cases across the UK in recent weeks , as confirmed by the Night Time Industries Association ( NTIA ), and along with drink spiking , there have been reports of hypodermic needle attacks in various clubs – including stories of victims blacking out , being unable to speak and finding puncture wounds on their skin .
It is a societal problem that cannot be solved overnight but event and venue operators are taking steps to help protect victims and ensure perpetrators are caught .
Following several concerning social media posts from young women telling their harrowing stories , as well as nationwide boycotts and demonstrations , the NTIA has urged the Home Office to launch an inquiry into the issue , while the Warehouse Project in Manchester is offering on-site urine tests for anyone that believes they may have had their drink spiked .
Of course it is not just drink spiking that leads many women to feel unsafe at events , with nearly half of women attending music events saying they have suffered some form of harassment , according to a YouGov survey .
Ahead of next year ’ s festival season , the Association of Independent Festivals ( AIF ) is relaunching its Safer Spaces initiative , originally set up in 2017 , which aims to raise greater awareness about sexual violence at festivals . Similarly , the Safe Spaces Now initiative , launched by UN Women UK ( UNWUK ) and S & C Productions ’ 10,000-capacity
“ Live music is a community , and we can and should be able to look out for each other to prevent sexual violence in the first instance .” - Mel Kelly
Cambridge festival Strawberries & Creem earlier this year , involved an open letter calling for sectorwide change , signed by the likes of Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis ,
The Eden Project in Cornwall and ticketing company DICE .
Home Office calls NTIA CEO Michael Kill says the association has called for a Home Office inquiry to provide clarity on how prevalent the issue of drink spiking is , and “ characteristics ” of the crimes such as what settings are most common , who is being targeted and what drugs are being used .
“ We need to be forearmed ,” says Kill . “ If we can ’ t understand what the toxicology is or what the breadth of those drugs are , then there is no point in going out buying tests because we may miss one , and that might be the critical one that ’ s used within an incident . There ’ s lots that needs to be accounted for , and it all starts with the quality of information .”
Kill admits the issue is widespread ,