The Night Owl
Nightlife in the UK is changing. As more people feel confident about going out, and as technology makes it easier for people to meet new friends, we are seeing a rise in the number of people who go out and enjoy themselves.
But there's still a lot of fear out there, especially around safety and sexual harassment. ONS (Office for National Statistics) data this year revealed that women felt less safe than men in all settings after dark.
When people don’t take their safety seriously they can end up a victim of crime and going out should not be tainted by the fear of being attacked.
Arith Liyanage, CEO and founder of The Night Owl, an independent nightclub renowned for its soul and retro music, has commented: “Hospitality and entertainment venues, as well as the government and the police, have a responsibility to ensure the safety of customers is front of mind.
“In every Night Owl location, we operate the ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme so that anyone who feels unsafe can discreetly receive help from our colleagues. Every member of staff is trained to spot signs of distress in patrons and identify who might be afraid to reach out for help.
“As well as this, we operate ‘Ask for Clive,’ which signals to our patrons that our venues are a safe space for anyone from the LGBTQIA+ community. We won’t hesitate to address harassment or discrimination based on a person’s sexual or gender identity.”
Below, Arith provides tips to ensure you and your party enjoy a safe night out, whilst exploring how nightlife and the confidence in going out has changed over time.
1 Plan before you leave the house
Where you’re going and who you’re going with will be top of mind whilst you’re getting ready, but there are a few things you should action before leaving the house.
Make sure you eat well first and foremost as a full stomach will slow the absorption of alcohol and allow you to enjoy your night for longer. Ensure your phone has enough battery life and let a friend, parent or responsible adult know where you’re going as a point of contact for the night.
People will often have valuables stolen on a night out and if you’re drunk, you’re an easier target. Put any house keys, ID, money, and cards somewhere that you won’t lose them – a back pocket is not advised!
2 Think safety in numbers
Sticking with your friends in a large group may not always be easy in a busy nightclub, so ensure to head off in twos when you’re going to the bar for a drink or taking a trip to the toilet.
Make sure everyone in your group has a phone on them at all times while out having fun together; this way if something goes wrong (like getting lost) then everyone will be able to contact one another easily without spending too much.
By remaining close to the people you trust and know well, you’ll reduce the risk of being targeted by people who are up to no good and may be out to take advantage.
3 Don’t leave your drink unattended or consume too much
Not only does alcohol make it harder for you to make good decisions (and sometimes even harder for others around you), but it also increases the risk of sexual assault or other crimes happening against those who are intoxicated.
Drink spiking is also a real problem in the UK, with one in nine women and one in 17 men having reported having their drink spiked, so it's best not to leave your drink unattended – and if someone offers to buy you a drink, be careful about how much you accept. If you get tipsy or drunk very quickly, that could be a sign of a spiked drink.
Other key symptoms of being spiked include:
Ensure you’re clued up on the above signs to avoid yourself, or your friends, from becoming a victim of drink spiking.
4 Get home safely
Avoid the ease of getting into an unlicensed taxi for a faster route home. The risks are too great, especially for women traveling alone. Make sure you have a reliable taxi company’s contact details and book ahead to save waiting at the end of your night.
If you’re walking home, make sure it isn’t alone and in a suitable enough distance. Stick to well-lit areas where there are plenty of people and CCTV. Never take short cuts, especially down dark alleys, by canals or through unlit parks.
How can businesses help?
Hospitality venues should be aware of safety schemes. The “Ask for Angela” campaign, for example, has been a widespread success across the company, allowing customers to discretely signal staff when they feel unsafe. This can lead to workers calling a taxi or alerting the police in emergencies.
Arith continued: “If a member of staff notices someone messing with someone else’s drink, take it off them and put it to one side for testing later. Having key signs around your venue including 'Don’t Leave Your Drinks Unattended' ensures the safety of your customers and staff, no matter how big or small the place is.
“Businesses should be telling customers that if they see anything suspicious or if they feel unsafe, to contact a member of the team. Whether it’s the DJ, door staff or bar staff, everyone’s there to help and should know to escalate incidents to a supervisor or manager.”