Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Security increase after drug death at University of Sheffield Student Union bar

University of Sheffield's Students' Union Image copyright Google

A student union bar is introducing ID scanners and sniffer dog checks amid drug use concerns after a student died.

The conditions were among a number imposed on The Foundry, at the University of Sheffield's Students' Union, after a review of its licence.

The hearing took place after a student died after taking MDMA at the venue and a second was taken critically ill.

South Yorkshire Police has accused the venue of having an underlying drug issue. The university denies the claim.

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The force applied for a review of the licence on 8 June, the day after 22-year-old Joana Burns died and a second girl was admitted to hospital after both took drugs, believed to be MDMA, on a night out at the venue.

In the application it said: "It is apparent there is an underlying issue of drugs supply and consumption at the premises.

"In view of the incidents in question and the concern around drug use and supply at the premises, a summary review of the licence is required."

Image caption Sheffield Hallam University student Joana Burns is thought to have taken MDMA during a night out to celebrate the end of university

The force said that when an officer visited The Foundry on 31 May to recover drugs confiscated at the venue it found more than 140 packets of tablets and powders.

However, during the hearing lawyer Leo Charalambides, on behalf of the university, said the venue had first asked police to take the seized items away on 3 March.

He described Miss Burns' death as a "tragic but isolated incident".

The university put forward a list of 12 steps it was willing to take in order to allay police concerns, a number of which were adopted.

The conditions imposed include:

  • A trained sniffer dog to be deployed at least four times per academic year;
  • Clear signage on zero-tolerance drugs policy and consequences of being caught with drugs;
  • ID scanner to be introduced by September.

Sheffield Safeguarding Children's Board called for a ban on under-18s events at the venue saying children were being "exposed to a drug-taking environment which puts them at risk of physical, psychological and moral harm", but the condition was not imposed.

Student safety 'a priority'

Councillor David Barker, joint chairman of Sheffield City Council Licensing Committee, said with the existing procedures and new conditions imposed he believed young people would be "as safe there as they would be anywhere else in the city".

A spokeswoman for the University of Sheffield and its students' union said keeping students safe was its "first priority".

She said: "At today's hearing, the Sheffield Students' Union proposed a number of additional measures that further support safety and security at the Foundry and we are pleased that they have been agreed.

"We are committed to working closely with Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Police to confirm these safety and security conditions, many of which are already in place."

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