REVEALED: University of Bristol’s new drug punishment policy

A revolutionary change


The University of Bristol has introduced a new process for dealing with student drug offences this year.

First time offenders who break drug misuse laws will be forced to attend a ‘Drugs Education Programme’ rather than face arrest or penalty notice. Attendance on the course will not trigger a criminal record entry.

The latest UoB Accommodation Disciplinary Handbook claims that the policy is to be used for all offences involving narcotics from Category A (cocaine, MDMA, mushrooms, LSD), B (cannabis), and C (Valium).


This move by the university reflects the new, lenient approach by Avon and Somerset Police towards first time drug offenders in the Constabulary’s area of jurisdiction.

A more tolerant approach to drugs introduced by various UK police forces is in stark contrast to the hard-line perspective exhibited by the government which led to Nitrous Oxide balloons being banned from Bristol’s beloved club Lakota.

Since April, 215 people caught in possession of drugs  in Bristol have been offered an alternative to receiving a criminal record by Avon and Somerset Police.

Whether this signals a big step towards decriminalisation in the UK or is simply a temporary test policy remains to be seen.

A spokesman for the University of Bristol said: “Following concerns raised by students and parents about drug usage in halls of residence, we worked with a group of our students, the Students’ Union and staff over the summer to review our stance on how students found in possession or using drugs in the halls are disciplined and also supported.”
“As a result of that work and a new initiative introduced by Avon and Somerset Police, we have revised our residential disciplinary procedures. Now any students found in possession of or using illegal drugs, as a first offence in halls, are reported to the police.”
“They in turn require the students to attend their Drugs Education Programme, which is an independent initiative run by the police, rather than face prosecution. Students caught in possession or taking drugs are also subject to University disciplinary procedures. We work hard to ensure all students are aware of the risks of drug use and the support available to them.”