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Durham Students To Be Breathalysed On Nights Out To Prevent Further Deaths

The announcement is one of a number of changes to be implemented following the drownings of three students.

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Students at Durham university are to be breathalysed by door staff on nights out as part of a raft of measures aimed at preventing another tragedy in the city.

Richard James / BuzzFeed

Three students died over a 14-month period after falling into the River Wear following nights out in Durham.

The drownings have led to the formation of the Durham City Safety Group, which was tasked with preventing another tragedy.

The group, which consists of members of the county council, the university, Durham Constabulary, the student union, and the cathedral, met on Monday evening and has made a number of announcements regarding tackling the city's safety and drinking culture, including the breathalysing pilot scheme.

It was revealed that all Durham’s licensed premises have been told to be more stringent with people believed to have had too much to drink.

Richard James / BuzzFeed

Guardianship arrangements have been put in place with all premises, meaning that when someone is refused entry or made to leave, a group of volunteers should be contacted on radio to help provide a safe journey home.

Other announcements included:

– The city centre manager's office in Millennium Place will be equipped with first aid supplies and temporarily used as a "place of safety" for those in a vulnerable state while a permanent location is sought.

– The night bus service, which was cancelled not longer before the first of the students, Sope Peters, went missing, will return this week.

– A previously announced £50,000 educational campaign aimed at promoting positive behaviour when drinking is now being developed and will be launched in April or May.

– A volunteering programme run by the university and council to look after students on nights out will launch on 25 February. The group claims 200 students have already expressed an interest in helping out.

– The volunteers will receive training and be equipped with radios and weatherproof clothing.

– Training will also be provided for new bar staff on serving alcohol sensibly and all managers and owners will be advised to attend a new bespoke course.

– The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has been commissioned to conduct an assessment of riverside safety. The assessment will take at the beginning of March and the report is set to be filed within a month of its completion.

Terry Collins, the chair of the City Safety Group, said:

I am sure this demonstrates the wide-range of actions which have been undertaken within just a few days as well as the importance of partnership working in tackling the complex issues which comprise city safety.

However it is extremely important to bear in mind that the agencies and organisations involved can work together to implement a whole range of changes and improvements in city safety but none will replace the need for people to take responsibility for how much they drink.

Richard James is acting head of news for BuzzFeed Australia and is based in Sydney.

Contact Richard James at richard.james@buzzfeed.com.

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