Leaders take action on River Wear safety after student’s death

SEARCH TEAMS: Police from the Marine Unit on Framwelgate Bridge in Durham on Friday after they were called following the discovery of Euan Coulthard in the water nearby.
SEARCH TEAMS: Police from the Marine Unit on Framwelgate Bridge in Durham on Friday after they were called following the discovery of Euan Coulthard in the water nearby.
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MEASURES to help Durham’s students stay safe and boost riverside safety are to be carried out immediately in the wake of the tragic death of city students.

Concerns have been raised about issues following the disappearance of St Mary’s College law undergraduate Euan Coulthard on January 14, with his body found in the River Wear on Friday by a diver.

Fellow Durham University student Sope Peters was found in the river in October 2013, five weeks after he went missing after a night out, while first year engineering student Luke Pearce, 19, was discovered a week after he went missing last May.

Today, an action plan has been announced to improve safety in the city following meetings between agencies.

In a statement, all involved said they agree working together and taking an informed and measured response to the “complex range of issues raised will deliver the changes required to improve safety in the city.”

At the meeting a range of actions were agreed.

These include:

•An independent review of riverside safety by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), in consultation with partners.

•Durham University and the Students’ Union will further develop their existing work to inform and educate students about staying safe and their personal wellbeing.

•An enhanced education process involving licensed premises in the city to ensure alcohol is supplied in a safe and sensible way and that proper guardianship practices are in place when any lone customers are viewed as vulnerable will be introduced.

•Drivers’ recruitment campaign to be launched to support the Students’ Union in re-establishing their night-time bus.

•Development of a new arrangement between the University and identified taxi operators in the city whereby at-risk students are given a safe method of getting home.

•Explore measures to tackle the availability of cheap alcohol, alcohol offers and to explore the value of steps to monitor alcohol in instances where personal safety may be an issue.

In the statement, issued by Durham County Council, it said there was a clear and strong will to progress this work as quickly as possible.

In addition other immediate measures were agreed to provide a high profile and reassuring presence in the city particularly during the night-time economy.

These include:

*A high visibility welfare unit to provide a safe haven when appropriate.

*The provision of new kit and radios, where necessary, to join up communications and support patrols by existing community safety volunteer groups across the city.

*The development of a night-time scheme supported by student volunteers to work alongside Durham Street Lights.

The council ha said the measures will be undertaken and implemented without delay. A further meeting will be held within the next two weeks.