The Groningen Night Council has launched a hotline for victims of “needle-spiking” as authorities are struggling to identify the cause of this unique spiking phenomenon. It is noteworthy that as per existing records, the majority of needle-spiking cases have been reported by women.
“My friends and I no longer prefer to go partying at night clubs, we feel safer in parties hosted by student associations because we know the people there”, says 21 year old Fiona Thelen, a student of Law at the University Of Groningen. “Ever since these cases have been reported , some of my female friends have decided not to wear short skirts or dresses while clubbing. They fear that chances of getting needle spiked are greater when their legs are bare”, adds Fiona.
The first case of alleged needle spiking in Groningen was reported on 21st March 2022 and the most recent one on 11th August, 2022, says Misha Pchenitchnikov, Drugs and Alcohol expert working with the Groningen Night Council. “We cannot divulge the exact number of reported cases at the moment”, adds Pchenitchnikov.
Victims claim to feel unwell immediately after a night of partying, often waking up post several hours of being unconscious, with a puncture mark they seem to associate with the prick of a needle. However, according to Pchenitchnikov, there seems to be no concrete evidence suggesting that the bruising is a consequence of needle spiking.
“I spoke to dermatologists to understand whether there is a way to ascertain that these marks are a result of an injection. It seems that it is impossible to distinguish these marks for example, from insect bites. Essentially, there is no way to be sure that “all” the victims took ill after an alleged incident of needle spiking”, says Pchenitchnikov.
What is surprising is that till date, there have been zero confirmed cases of needle spiking across Europe. Police investigation in Groningen has not led to the recovery of used needles or any suspicious activity recorded in the CCTV footage of nightclubs. According to Pchenitchnikov, the police are also questioning the “motive” behind needle-spiking cases.
“I think that the needle spiking reports were quite worrying since we were dealing with a new phenomenon. Because of this we did a lot of research into the different cases and possibilities to needle spike someone. Up until now this researches shows that it’s extremely unlikely that needle spiking is happening (on a large scale) in the nightlife. Nonetheless we take every new case utterly serious because every new case may give new insights into the needle spiking phenomenon”, says Pchenitchnikov.
With the start of the new academic year , many students including internationals are setting out to explore Groningen’s vibrant night life. However, students, especially women are wary of “Needle-spiking” as a potential threat to their safety while enjoying a night out.