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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Police urge everyone to stay safe as Northern Ireland’s nightlife reopens

Following the easing of lockdown restrictions, this Sunday will see nightclubs in Northern Ireland opening their doors for the first time in over 18 months. The Police Service of Northern Ireland is increasing nightlife patrols this weekend to keep people safe and will be relaunching its #NoGreyZone campaign and putting out messaging to address recent reports of suspected drink spiking.

Officers say that when they are questioning perpetrators of sexual assault there are often perceived ‘blurred lines of consent’, especially when alcohol is involved.

In response, the digital media campaign, #NoGreyZone, aims to dispel myths around consent in relation to alcohol consumption. It delivers the stark message that sex without consent is rape or sexual assault, there is no defence.

Detective Superintendent Gary McDonald from the Public Protection Branch said:

“A person can only consent to have sex if they agree by choice and they have the freedom and capacity to do so. If someone is too drunk to know what they are doing, they can’t give consent. If they haven’t consented and you engage in any sexual activity with them - it’s rape or sexual assault and we will take all reports incredibly seriously. You will face the consequences.”

A number of incidents of suspected drink spiking have also been reported to police in October. In response, Superintendent Arnie O’Neill from the Crime Prevention & Early Intervention Team has said:

“We take reports of this nature incredibly seriously and officers are currently investigating. Those who are found to have carried out such a premeditated, dangerous act could face a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison. “We will be working closely with bars and clubs to make them as safe as possible. CCTV is in operation in many venues and high streets and is one of our lines of enquiries. We want to make sure that potential perpetrators know that we will be monitoring CCTV and will be robustly investigating confirmed drink spiking incidents.”

Police are seeking to improve safety, raise awareness and educate on the seriousness of committing such offences. Information has also been published today on symptoms of drink spiking to look out for, along with tips on how to help someone who may have been spiked.

You can read this in the Drugs section of

Police are encouraging anyone who believes they have been the victim of drink spiking, to seek medical advice and make a report to police by contacting 101 or 999 in an emergency.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland has received 34 reports of suspected drink spiking to date this month.

In 17 of these cases, there is no evidence of spiking – either because the person has confirmed they were simply intoxicated, where there is other evidence such as CCTV to rule spiking out, or where they have willingly ingested drugs. These are classed as “not probable spiking”. The other 17 cases remain open and investigations are ongoing. There have been no reports made of ‘needle spiking.’ is a website run on behalf of the five multi-agency Drug and Alcohol partnerships that exist across Northern Ireland.


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