Drink-spiking wristbands to be given out to keep Blackpool revellers safe
Blackpool man spent £1,500 on free date-rape testers to protect resort women
Revellers in Blackpool will be given free wristbands to keep them safe from predators on nights out.
Sam Benson, 27, has paid £1,500 out of his own pocket for 600 of the bands, which can detect colourless and tasteless date-rape drugs including GHB and Rohypnol.
They’re being shipped over from Germany, where they were invented two years ago, and should arrive in time for the busy Christmas period, when scores of women will paint the town red to celebrate the festivities.
Sam said the aim is to “make it safer for women to have a night out without being targeted”.
He said: “I hope that anyone horrible enough to think about spiking a drink will see the wristbands and think again.”
It follows a number of reports of women being spiked by needle at nightclubs, prompting boycotts of venues around the country.
While the wristbands bought by businessman Sam, which are called Xantus Drink-Checks, won’t be able to stop needle spiking, they will be able to detect if a drink has been contaminated with a date-rape drug.
Sam, who runs local takeaway service Blackpool Eats, said he was inspired to fork out after reading about a Glasgow nightclub which sold the bands.
He added: “I’d love to get more out there but I’ve got a limited budget. I’ve had over 150 orders already.”
Dimi Akram, who owns Twisted Indian Street Food in Clifton Street, Blackpool town centre, said he hopes to stock the wristbands as soon as he can.
“I’ve got three girls,” he said. “My eldest is 18. The bands seem like a great way to keep women safe and it’s amazing that they are being given for free.
“I’m shocked with what’s going on. We’re in the centre of Blackpool and we close at midnight so we see it all.”
Paul Rawson, manager at Blackpool Street Angels, whose volunteers have patrolled the town centre on a night to keep party-goers safe since 2012, said he hoped to get wristbands to stock on a minibus parked in the resort.
He said: “We carry Drink Spikies – a lid to put over your drink – but people tend not to bother using them.
“This seems like a great alternative and we’d definitely like to get hold of them to keep in the minibus.
“Drink spiking has always been around and it’s good that it’s being highlighted.”
Sam set up Blackpool Eats in 2018 and donated all his first week’s takings to the town's food bank. He added: “I want to keep more money in Blackpool to support local businesses and reinvest in the community.
READ MORE: https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/street-angels-new-tool-keep-revellers-safe-273449
“I was hearing stories through friends of what was going on with the drink spiking and I could see this was sadly needed here.”
There were around 140 reported cases of spiking in September and October, according to the National Police Chief’s Council, though it is feared many more cases are going unreported.
Fine art student and Lancaster University graduate Polly Sutherland last week told how she lost the use of her drawing hand for weeks after having her drink spiked – and said she still feels “vulnerable” during nights out five years later.
She said she was 19 when she was targeted and was not taken seriously by paramedics, doctors, and the students’ union.
Miss Sutherland, who was in a bar run by the students’ union when friends noticed her behaving strangely and also has type one diabetes, said being drugged left her needing to use a walking stick for weeks because it damaged her blood sugar levels – something which can be fatal for people with the condition.
“I don’t remember anything suspicious happening or noticing anything at all,” Miss Sutherland, now 24, said. “It was later ... I seemed very different... erratic.”
To request a wristband, email [email protected]