Petition calls for free drug testing kits to be made available to all Newcastle students

The petition follows four suspected drug-related deaths this weekend

Following the tragic news of four deaths from suspected drug usage this weekend, including three students, a petition has been started by Newcastle University students to make free and anonymous drug testing kits available at the SU.

The description of the petition, which has already gained over 700 signatures, states: “It has been made very clear that the availability of free drug testing kits being made easily accessible to young people would drastically reduce the risk of another tragedy like this reoccurring.”

Two of the four deaths this weekend were Newcastle University students who are suspected to have taken ketamine or MDMA which turned out to be lethal. Ten people have been arrested in connection with the deaths.

The University and Northumbria Police have both issued statements warning students away from taking drugs and reminding students that doing so is illegal.

The petition says: “Drug testing kits are able to detect dangerous substances in drugs that can be potentially life-threatening and this will allow those who choose to take drugs to be better equipped and have a greater understanding of what they are putting into their bodies leading them to make a more educated, and therefore safer, decision.

“The Students Union has a responsibility to make sure that university students stay safe and therefore we believe that the SU is the ideal place to offer these testing kits, much like free condoms and STI kits are made available to encourage safe sex. The SU is accessible to all students and has the ability to make picking up a drug testing kit free, easy and anonymous.”

Although the petition acknowledges that the use of drugs is illegal the National Union of Students found that around two in five students have taken drugs in 2018: “This demonstrates just how many people are at risk every year and how many lives can be saved by offering these tests for free. In no way will the availability of tests encourage more people to take drugs, but it will make it much more safe for the thousands of students who choose to.”

The petition currently has over 750 signatures and can be signed here.