DRINK spike testing kits will be used next year in Belfast bars and Fermanagh businesses could also benefit from the new initiative.
After a council motion was passed at City Hall last week, Belfast pubs and other licensed premises will see test kits for drink-spiking introduced onto their premises by next year.
Large student hubs like Belfast are more prone to cases of drinks being spiked compared to rural areas such as Fermanagh, but Shane Browne, Cassidy Hospitality Group, group sales and marketing manager, welcomed the development.
“Anything that we can do to make nightlife safer for customers can only be a good thing. It’s definitely a positive move,” he said.
“It’s not something that we have experienced a lot here and it’s an issue more prevalent in cities, but by all means, we would be supportive.
“If businesses here can be seen to be taking part in initiatives, which will only further protect the safety of customers, then we’d be only too happy to be involved.”
At Belfast City Council’s Licensing Committee, elected representatives unanimously agreed to an Alliance motion by Councillor Micky Murray.
It states: “This council, in a bid to make our night-time economy a safer place, will work with licensed premises to introduce drink spike testing kits into their premises.
“This will include training for staff on how to administer the kits, what to do in the event of a positive result, and promotional material promoting how customers can access the kits.”
Once the motion is ratified at the full council next month, a paper on how the project will be rolled out will be brought before committee.
When this is passed, licensed premises across Belfast will be able to keep testing kits on their premises.
Food and beverage businesses like Cassidy Hospitality Group, which owns The Firehouse, the Crowe’s Nest, and the Westville Hotel in Enniskillen, would be open to a similar scheme Mr Browne believed.
“The safety of our customers always comes first and we always promote the need for responsible drinking,” he said.
“If there was ever something that was drafted by the local council concerning this, we’d be more than happy to be part of it and I’m sure so would others.”
In November 2021, police stated 120 incidents of drinks being spiked were reported in Northern Ireland over a 10-month period – even before the busy Christmas and New Year period.
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