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Drugs & Alcohol Action Partnership launched

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In spring 2019, we launched a new Drugs & Alcohol Action Partnership, known as DAAP, led by Paddy Woodman, Director of Student Services. The group is working closely with external partners, including Reading Borough Council’s Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) as well as other universities.

The DAAP is working to better co-ordinate existing initiatives alongside identifying new opportunities, with the aim of encouraging our students to take a responsible approach to alcohol and to discourage the use of recreational drugs.

Membership of the DAAP includes representatives from Student Services, Estates, Campus Commerce and MCE, as well as RUSU and academic colleagues with expertise in this area. Several workstreams have been established with particular areas of focus, as follows:

Education

Enforcement, prevention and licencing

  • We have developed a University Community Alcohol Partnership with Reading Borough Council. This brings together local partners to share expertise and best practise with the aim of reducing alcohol harm. This includes licensing and enforcement expertise.
  • Our bar staff all receive routine classroom-based training as well as e-learning, one to one training, tool box talks and updates on ‘need to know’ information. Training covers a wide variety of issues from social responsibility, vulnerability, licensing and the law and best practise.
  • A major project to enhance the quality of our campus CCTV is planned to start this year.
  • Co-ordinated bans are issued to students for drug and alcohol offences on licenced premises (for example, if banned from RUSU they are also banned from all University bars).
  • Reports of anti-social behaviour on and off campus related to alcohol, drugs (and more) are now routinely followed up and disciplinary action taken. This has required adding additional capacity to the Warden team who discharge this responsibility on top of their Halls duties.
  • Our Bars team are working with the Campus Card team to more easily flag under 18s to ensure they are not served alcohol.
  • Both the University and RUSU bars teams have diversified their range of low and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • We are exploring the feasibility of employing a drugs dog around our bars. RUSU already employ this strategy on club nights.

Support for misuse

  • We have enhanced the information advice and guidance provided to students, providing some practical guidance that will map on to that in the alcohol awareness campaign. In January we will launch a range of self-help leaflets including on drugs and alcohol in partnership with the NHS.
  • We are working with the local authority’s new drug and alcohol addiction service Change Grow Live (CGL) to provide awareness raising activity and interventions on campus across the year.

In-the-moment support

  • We have identified and costed on-site medical provision for RUSU club nights. We are exploring the feasibility of funding this.
  • We are working with RUSU and campus security to support a walking bus initiative for after club nights to ensure that students do not need to walk home alone.
  • We are liaising and working with First Stop in Reading Town Centre. They hope to recruit student volunteers to work at the weekends at the St Mary’s Butts centre that offer support to people (students included) who find themselves in difficulty at night in town.

Policies and penalties

  • We are completing a new Drugs & Alcohol Policy, to complement our existing Regulations for Student Conduct. It will clearly articulate the boundaries between what is acceptable and what is not and present the penalties associated with alcohol/drugs misconduct. This is currently being reviewed by the relevant stakeholders with an aim to publish the final version by the end of the autumn term.
  • We are negotiating with CGL to bring their experience in drug and alcohol awareness training with Northumbria and Newcastle Universities to Reading where we plan to employ it as part of the disciplinary process for offences relating to drugs and alcohol.

Alternative activities

  • The Welcome Week Team, RUSU and the UoR Bars and Catering have provided more non-alcohol social events than ever before in Welcome Week. These have been hugely popular, which suggests our plans to maintain these activities across the year are absolutely right.
  • The Library Café has been identified as a suitable space to offer early evening alcohol-free social events. We plan to launch a programme of regular social and sober activities starting later this term – what this space!

We look forward to keeping you updated as our work progresses. In the meantime, if you have any queries please contact Paddy Woodman.

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