Newcastle University gives update on drug policy following Jeni Larmour inquest

The university said ‘it’s about harm reduction’ in a statement made this week

Newcastle University have updated their drug policy in response to the Jeni Larmour inquest, after it was confirmed that she died due to the effect of ketamine and alcohol hours after arriving at the university two years ago.

The university said it is “constantly evolving” when it comes to reducing the harm caused by drugs and alcohol.

Newcastle University’s academic registrar, Lucy Backhurst, told the Coroner this week how the university’s policies were constantly being reassessed in light of the “changing needs” of students.

Following the inquest, in a statement Ms Backhurst said: “Our thoughts are with Jeni’s family and friends at this time. Jeni was clearly an outstanding student with a bright future ahead of her and we are incredibly sad she never got the opportunity to start her academic journey with us.

“We work hard to raise awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol use with our students and have a range of services and resources to support those affected by their own use or that of someone they know. At the same time, we are working closely with our students and the Students’ Union to enhance the services and support we provide.

“Since Jeni’s death, we have further developed our harm reduction stance on student drug and alcohol use and have introduced additional educational material that we require students to view at the start of their studies.”

In a joint letter from the Vice-Chancellor, Chris Day, and Newcastle University Students’ Union, they “acknowledge that for some, socialising and drinking alcohol is part of university life and we know that some students will use drugs while at university.

“We recognise that the most effective response to alcohol and drug use is education and support, and our primary aim is to reduce harm and do all we can to safeguard you from the detrimental impacts of drug and alcohol use.”

A number of services have been introduced in the form of educational materials, services and resources to support those affected by their own use or that of someone they know, which includes information about where to seek help if someone you know is unwell.

Drug testing kits and amnesty bins have also been made available at the Students’ Union, moving away from a strictly “discipline-focused” approach.

You can find more information on the Newcastle University Students’ Union website.

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story, please speak to someone or contact Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. You can also contact Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774, Mind on 0300 123 3393, and Calm (Campaign against living miserably) on 0800 58 58 58. You can visit the Frank website or call the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600. 

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