A bar in Tunbridge Wells has been closed after seven people reported suspicions they may have been spiked – including two who suggested a substance could have been administered using a needle.
Kent Police said Marston's, the owners of the Pitcher and Piano brand, had temporarily closed the Church Road venue due to "concerns about the safety of customers at the premises".
Suspicions of spikings were raised between midnight and 3am on 21 November, when the seven customers, aged in their late teens and 20s, became unwell while at the venue. Police said no needles were recovered.
On Tuesday (23 November) officers requested a review of the bar's licence, raising concerns about its management and security measures. The following day the town council suspended the venue's license until 1 December. Marston's has closed the venue entirely until that date and said it will enhance safety measures, including the installation of better CCTV, the provision of drink covers, improved lighting and the installation of metal detectors at the entrance.
Chief inspector Lizzie Jones said: "The application to review this licence was made due to the seriousness of the allegations received and the concerns of officers that the bar should have more effective safety measures in place for their customers.
"We were pleased to receive the co-operation of premises owners at the hearing who have taken the additional step of closing the bar while safety measures are put in place. We will continue to work constructively with the management of the Pitcher and Piano once it has reopened.
"We take all reported incidents seriously and officers from our dedicated Community Safety Unit work closely with the town's night-time venues to make them hostile places for those who may seek to exploit others and ensure members of staff recognise the signs of spiking and other criminal behaviour that might take place. Every incident reported to us is thoroughly investigated to identify any suspects and provide support and assurance to victims."
Police have said those who feel uncomfortable during a night out can seek help using the Ask for Angela scheme. By asking a member of staff to speak to Angela they can raise the alarm that they would like assistance or require intervention due to a person they feel uneasy about.