SAFETY items and gift packs are to be handed out to those enjoying Colchester’s nightlife as part of a new summer of safety campaign to prevent violence against women.

Over the course of the month, staff from Colchester’s Business Improvement District (BID) have been visiting night-time venues across the city to give out drinks covers – known as spikeys – so club and pub goers don’t have their drinks spiked.

Employees at venues have also been trained to respond to anyone who mentions the code ‘ask Angela’ so they can support anyone who is in an intimidating situation by discreetly escorting them from the premises or by reuniting them with friends or family.

The summer of safety campaign, which will run until the end of the month, has also seen the Colchester's SOS bus crew hand out advice guides and gift packs to those out enjoying the city’s night time economy.

The drug related exposure (DRE) guide helps people protect themselves from spiking, drugs, and alcohol, and also instructs them how contact the SOS Bus and Essex Police if needed.

As well as this, the guide includes information about how medication, sickness, body temperature, exposure to the sun, menstrual cycle and menopause can change our reactions to alcohol.

Much of the work Colchester’s BID has been putting into practice has been supported by Essex Sexual Health Services, Eastern Region Hepatitis C team, and the Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse.

Colchester BIDs crime liaison officer, Vincent Geaves, said the work which has been taking place across city centre venues will allow people to feel safe on nights out.

He said: “I am proud to say that this is just a small aspect of the work that goes on between partners in Colchester City Centre, with a strong objective to actively decrease violence against women and girls.

“Although this campaign is for July, OurColchester Bid will continue to keep projects and training running for the foreseeable future, including 'Ask for Angela'.

“It’s crucial to me that people know they have support and access to help for themselves or others if needed.”