Image credit Dorota Dziki

Glasgow nightlife under attack

By Molly Comer

With Glasgow regularly making an appearance on “top student city” lists, is Glasgow nightlife all it’s cracked up to be?

Glasgow may be famous for many things. Its museums, its food, its football, and of course, its nightlife. With countless clubs, pubs, and late-night bars, the opportunities for drinking and dancing (and spending money) are endless. 

However, its reputation as a party city may be under threat. First Bus, the largest bus company in Glasgow and its surrounding area, announced in July that it would be cancelling its late-night services due to limited passenger numbers. It was, at the time, the only late-night public transport service in the city. The resulting outcry from both patrons and employees of clubs and late-night bars who rely on the service for safe and reliable transport home after a night out or a shift at work, sparked concern from Glasgow City Council itself.

This decision has been largely reversed. FirstBus has pledged to continue with four of its late-night services and competing bus operator McGill’s has introduced five new services to directly replace those scrapped by FirstBus, after discussions between both companies and the Council. Nonetheless, the initial announcement prompted much discussion amongst Glasgow residents, including students, over public transport in the city. With the train network and the Subway closing notoriously early, not to mention the heightened rate of taxi fares and reduced number of drivers since the pandemic, do Glasgow residents feel it’s safe and easy to get home after a night out? If the outcry over the summer following the First Bus decision is anything to go by, the answer is a resounding no.

The journey home is not the only reason some students in Glasgow no longer feel safe on nights out. Since the reopening of clubs and bars following the pandemic, there has been a heightened awareness of spiking, the action of drugging someone’s drink or, in some cases, drugging a person via injection without their knowledge to make them unconscious or unable to function normally.

This recent awareness is reflected in Police Scotland statistics. In 2021 reports of spiking rose to an astonishing 152, up from 30 in 2020 and 43 in 2019. Of the 152 cases, 51 people reported being spiked by injection, across all of Scotland. The reports from 2021 alone make up 46% of all reported cases from 2015-2021. It has also been observed that spiking is a vastly underreported crime, making the true number of spiking cases is likely to be much higher. According to Drinkaware, the UK’s leading alcohol charity “it’s difficult to know the true extent of the crime. Often people don’t report drink spiking, because they don’t remember details of the night, or they feel embarrassed.”

This is not to say that Glasgow nightlife is completely unsafe. In fact, crime statistics indicate relative safety. From 2022-2023, crimes reported to police decreased by 5% from the previous year according to Scotland’s Chief Statistician, part of a downward trend in crime in Glasgow across the board, including crimes generally related to late-night partying, including both non-sexual and sexual violent crimes, as well as drug possession and reckless behaviour. Glasgow is regarded as a generally safe city, and if recent trends continue, it is rapidly becoming safer for students wishing to experience nightlife as a part of their university package.

Glasgow’s nightlife is often regarded as some of the best in the UK because it is, truly, excellent. Its range of clubs playing a wide variety of music for any kind of mood, as well as countless pubs with great atmosphere, plus a vibrant LGBTQIA+ party scene have all contributed to Glasgow’s consistent high place on lists ranking UK nightlife. Plus, in 2022, Glasgow was voted “the world’s friendliest city” by Time Out.

So, is Glasgow nightlife all it’s cracked up to be? The city’s nightlife is certainly facing major problems, especially regarding its public transport and its recent rise in reports of spiking, but ultimately, Glasgow is, if only figuratively, a warm city with friendly locals. And its vibrant and diverse nightlife means there is something for every student.


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments