Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt & PC Dan McGwinn delivered the first batch of brightly-coloured devices to The Cooper Rose this week
Police have teamed up with Sunderland’s pubs and bars to promote safe drinking in the city centre.
Dedicated university officer PC Dan McGwinn has arranged for ‘drink spikeys’ to be placed in more than a dozen licensed premises across the city.
The brightly-coloured device, which fits inside the neck of a bottle and leaves room for a straw, stops the possibility of a drink being spiked.
After the spikeys were successfully placed in all on-campus bars at the University of Sunderland last year, PC McGwinn has now rolled out the initiative to licensed premises in the city.
Thousands of the free stoppers will now be delivered to pubs and bars across Sunderland after they received unanimous support from the city’s successful Pubwatch scheme.
On Tuesday, Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt and PC McGwinn visited The Cooper Rose with the first delivery for manager Nik Chapman, who is also chairman of Sunderland Pubwatch.
“We are fortunate to live and work in a vibrant, safe city where thousands of people use our fantastic restaurants, pubs and bars to socialise in,” Chief Supt Pitt said.
“Our officers enjoy an excellent relationship with licensees and other city centre partners who work together to protect the public, tackle crime and prevent potential incidents from happening. This initiative is another example of that effective partnership working.
“We’re delighted to be working with Pubwatch and the University of Sunderland to spread the messages of safe drinking and ensure these colourful devices are readily available for anyone who uses our city centre premises.
“Over the last week, we have welcomed an influx of new students to Sunderland as they begin their university adventure, and officers attended the freshers’ fayre and on-campus events to offer crime prevention advice.
“Those messages apply not only to students but to our communities as a whole, and we will continue to work with partners and all those in the city centre to ensure Sunderland remains a safe place.”
PC McGwinn, who is based at the University of Sunderland’s city centre campus and is responsible for keeping more than 12,000 students on Wearside safe, says the anti-spiking devices have proved hugely successful among revellers.
“The anti-drink spiking devices were initially placed in the university bars as a way of promoting safe drinking and reminding students of the dangers of consuming excess alcohol,” PC McGwinn said.
“That proved incredibly successful, and the feedback from students at the university is that the spikeys are a quick and easy way to seal bottles and ensure drugs or illicit substances cannot be slipped into them.
“We are therefore delighted that this is now being rolled out to all licensed premises in the city centre with the support of Pubwatch, which is a fantastic example of partnership working.”
The Pubwatch scheme allows city centre premises to share information with other licensees about drunk or rowdy customers, identify vulnerable individuals and use radios to quickly alert police to potential flashpoints.
Nik Chapman, manager of The Cooper Rose and chair of Sunderland’s Pubwatch, said the scheme continues to have a positive impact on the city centre.
“The most important thing is ensuring the safety of those who live in or visit our city centre,” Mr Chapman said. “We are pleased to be working with police and the University of Sunderland to promote safe drinking.
“Over the years, as a result of Pubwatch, we have built an excellent relationship and developed a strong understanding with other licensees, the police and the local authority. That, in turn, greatly assists us in working together to tackle any issues in the city centre.
“The benefits of this scheme are on show every weekend and the introduction of ‘spikeys’ into our pubs and bars can only be a positive thing to ensure Sunderland remains a safe city.”
Helder Costa, president for wellbeing at Sunderland University Students' Union, welcomed the initiative.
He said: "We are delighted to see this scheme being rolled out across the city - the safety of our students is extremely important to us and we are supportive of any initiative that puts student wellbeing at the forefront.
"We work closely with venues throughout Sunderland to help promote safe spaces for students in our city, and this is just another way to keep people safe."
A spokesperson for the University of Sunderland added: “We work closely with our police partners to ensure the safety of all our students, both on and off campus.
“We are pleased to be involved with this latest safety initiative, while University security and the campus police are always happy to give advice and guidance to students and staff.”