A nation-wide boycott of nightclubs and bars took to the streets on Wednesday night, as thousands of women demanded that clubs and bars up their safety measures.

The initiative, called Girls Night In, took off in Nottingham, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds and Bournemouth this week – with local venues reporting a drop in young people attending.

The group are protesting the shocking rise in reported drink spiking and the new horrific trend of people being injected with a mystery drug – via a needle.

Around 170,000 signatures have been added to a petition calling for more stringent checks upon entry to clubs and bars, and campaigners also want clubs to “enforce specialist training for bar staff, hand out covers for drinks and employ welfare officers to help revellers get home safely”.

The biggest protest took place in Manchester, where banners included “needles are for knitting” and “girls just wanna be safe”.

Among those at the protest were Greater Manchester Mayor, Labour's Andy Burnham and Nighttime Economy Advisor Sacha Lord.

Law student Kate Rolwson, who said she was spiked in her first year of university, told BBC News: “There's a lot of fear around.

“I can say that for myself and all my friends.

“A lot of us have stopped going out as much because we're scared something could happen.

“As students there's not much we can do; we can't change laws.

“But none of us want to live in fear.

“We say we do not accept this behaviour; we will not tolerate it."

Petra Mirosevic-Sorgo, 21, who runs Loughborough’s Girls Night In Instagram account, told PA news that her own experiences of spiking made her want to "make sure that others feel safe".

She said: "I woke up and I was so distraught.

"I just remember running out to the hospital lobby crying.

"Normally 3,000+ people go out on a Wednesday, so we're quite happy that people are actually taking this seriously."

Also speaking to PA was Benjamin Hobbs, 18, a management student, who attended the Manchester march.

"It was incredible to see so many people tonight united by a common cause and it's important to note that this is just the beginning," he said.

"The students of Manchester will not cease demonstrations until sufficient action is taken and we can sleep at night, knowing we're safe to go out and have fun without risk of being spiked.

"We are collectively calling on nightclubs and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to take immediate preventative action to better protect girls from potential spiking incidents as well as asking for the combined authority to run a campaign aiming to make people think about their behaviour and hold their friends accountable.

"We would also like measures to be taken in order to make Manchester safer for young people at night, including better street lighting, especially in vulnerable areas such as Fallowfield and a review of public transport at night time, especially in areas populated by students."

According to figures released earlier this week, 56 reports of alleged injection incidents in bars have been detailed to police in the UK, and around 198 reports of drink spiking were also recorded.

Those figures were released by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

The boycott is the latest blow to the nighttime economy, which suffered greatly during two long lockdown periods since the Coronavirus pandemic began in March, 2020.

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