New river safety measures receive mixed reception

Flowers Smaller

By Josh Smith 

The Durham City Safety Group has announced a series of new measures to improve riverside safety, but are they what students have been calling for?

River safety measures have become of paramount importance following the tragic deaths of three students in 14 months, and an accident early Friday morning where emergency services rescued another student from the River Wear.

In response to Friday’s incident, acting Vice-Chancellor Ray Hudson promised that the University and Students’ Union are “committed to working with our partners to put in place a number of safety measures.”

The City Safety Group has proposed the development of a “high visibility welfare unit to provide a safe haven when appropriate” and a new scheme to accompany ‘Durham Student Lights’, a voluntary group that helps get students home safely at night-time.

Jessie Donnolley, a third-year on her year abroad, spoke with Rebecca Carey, the Police University Liason Officer, over the possibility of a volunteer group.

Speaking to Palatinate, Donnolley praised this initiative.

“Durham sells itself on its close community atmosphere.

“Durham students want to look out for each other. This is why this is a good idea.”

The City Safety Group has also committed itself to the launch of Driver’s Recruitment Team to support the Student Union’s plans to re-establish a night bus service to take students hope after nights out.

This plan has caused confusion amongst students, after the existing night-bus service was abolished shortly before the disappearance of Sope Peters in November 2013.

Following the disappearance of Euan Coulthard, a petition launched to encourage Durham County Council to improve safety along the river gained over 15,000 signatures.

Many students believe improving the pathways along the river is of greatest concern. However, the City Safety Group’s statement on 28th January showed no mention of improving the actual state of the pathways.

Water SmallerAccording to Durham Students’ Union, a decision cannot be made in regard to CCTV cameras or barriers along the river until the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has carried out an independent review.

Community Officer Laura Carter declared she was “frustrated” it had taken this long to secure an audit.

Emma Gillard, a second year from Collingwood, expressed what she believes many students have been thinking.

“These are steps in the right direction, and the volunteer service is a great thing for the city, but the danger ultimately lies in the river and the paths around it.

“Without some form of lighting and fencing, these areas remain dangerous to anyone that uses them.”

The University and the Students’ Union, who are part of the City Safety Group, will also work to educate students about wellbeing and safety.

The Student Safety Group has allegedly secured £50,000 of funding from the council for an education campaign.

Licensed premises in the city will also be educated in proper guardianship practices for when lone customers are viewed as vulnerable.

On its Facebook page, Klute nightclub has already told its followers about the measures it will take.

The post read: “If we’ve removed your friend as they’re worse for wear or you feel that your buddy needs to go home and you’re willing to get them there safely, make sure you see the front door team on your way out and we’ll make sure you get a free entry pass.”

Such measures are in response to concern over students walking home intoxicated and alone, as was the case with the tragic three deaths over the last 14 months.

Photographs: Venus Loi 

2 thoughts on “New river safety measures receive mixed reception

  • Hey – Charlotte here from Metro Radio News. Can we have a chat regarding riverside safety this morning? We’re on 0191279 0228. Thanks

  • Have you poached reporters from the Tab??? This is shoddy journalism.

    ‘what she believes many students have been thinking’: is this really what Palatinate has come to?

    I am disappointed by the lack of balance in this article. What about attempting to source opinion from students who do think that these safety measures, who don’t want a barrier to be erected? We do exist, you know.


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