Keeping people safe on nights out is a team effort and Sussex Police works in close partnership with licensed venues across the county.

Reports of drinks tampering and needle sticking have increased since the beginning of October and the force has reacted strongly, with increased patrols, round-the-clock investigations that have led to three arrests and an even greater commitment to working with our partners in the night-time economy.

Licensed venues have proactively stepped up their security efforts, with increased searches at the door, extra training for staff, lids for cups, testing strips, on-site medics, safe spaces for people in distress and much more.

Venues are linked in with the police and other partners through Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRP) across Sussex.

The BCRPs offer guidance and advice, hold briefings with security staff and police before opening times and provide dedicated radios shared between officers and door staff to allow rapid responses to any incidents.

Sussex Police has recently distributed hundreds of educational posters to pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants offering guidance on what to do if you believe you may have been spiked.

Through the hashtag #spikeaware, police forces, venues and community organisations are linked with shared information, advice and best practice, as well as support for victims.

Funding has also recently been awarded to Sussex Police for two branded cars as part of the Home Office’s Safety of Women at Night Fund, to not only act as a deterrent but to offer a clear contact point for people who need them.

Chief Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw said: “The reaction to these increased reports from us as a force and our partners across the county has been robust and I’ve been really impressed with how proactive licensed venues have been in taking strong measures keep their customers safe and send a clear message to those who want to cause harm that they will be caught.

“Everybody has been troubled by the rise in reports, but we are now starting to see the numbers level off and decline as a result of the measures we and our partners have put in place.

“Investigations are ongoing in order to bring perpetrators to justice and we will continue to make sure the night-time economies in our towns and cities are safe places to enjoy.

“If you believe you have been a victim of spiking or any crime on a night out, report it to bar staff or a police officer as soon as possible. You can also report crimes online through the Sussex Police website, via 101 or by calling 999 in an emergency.”