Sheffield University ordered to tighten security at Foundry Bar after death of student who died after taking MDMA on night out

Joana Burns,22, fell fatally ill at The Foundry on June 6, after taking MDMA
Joana Burns,22, fell fatally ill at The Foundry on June 6, after taking MDMA
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The University of Sheffield's Foundry bar has been ordered to tighten its security practices, after a 22-year-old student fell fatally ill on a night out there last month after taking MDMA.

Members of Sheffield Council's licensing-sub committee agreed this morning that the bar could keep its licence, but imposed 11 additional conditions in a bid to crackdown on drugs being brought into, and sold on, the premises in the wake of the tragic incident.

Sheffield Council have added an additional 11 conditions to The Foundry's license, which include the use of an ID scanner on club nights, in the wake of Joana's death

Sheffield Council have added an additional 11 conditions to The Foundry's license, which include the use of an ID scanner on club nights, in the wake of Joana's death

The conditions include the use of an ID scanner from 11.30pm at night on club nights from September 4 this year, and the introduction of sniffer dogs which will be brought to the venue a minimum of four times in the space of 12 months from the beginning of the 2017 academic year.

However, an application from the Sheffield Children Safeguarding Board to suspend access to the venue to children aged between 14 and 18-years-old until a 'culture change' has been brought in, was denied by the committee.

Chair of the licensing sub-committee Coun David Barker said it had decided to allow the Foundry to keep its license due to the belief it was a 'beacon of good practice' for safety.

South Yorkshire Police's acting superintendent, Shaun Morley, applied for the license review due to his belief the premises were connected with 'serious crime' due to the 'consistent supply and consumption of controlled drugs on the premises'.

Joana Burns, 22, had just completed a mathematics degree at Sheffield Hallam University when she took MDMA and later died on a night out on June 6

Joana Burns, 22, had just completed a mathematics degree at Sheffield Hallam University when she took MDMA and later died on a night out on June 6

This came after 22-year-old Joana Burns, who had just completed a degree in mathematics at Sheffield Hallam University, died after taking MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, on a night out with friends on June 6.

She had been at Tuesday Club at The Foundry in the University of Sheffield's students' union building when she fell ill and later died.

Witness statements from Joana's friends, none of whom were named, used in a report that went before the licensing sub-committee said the group of friends had all paid £7 for the drug as part of a 'final fling' before the end of university.

One witness said Joana had taken half of the drug in a 'bomb' before arriving at the venue, and had taken the other half in The Foundry's toilets after smuggling it in.

Another of the group of friends, who had taken the drug on a couple of occasions, declined to take it on the night in question but said she warned the group that the substance they had looked 'too dark brown' in colour, and smelt like hydrochloric acid.

Another student - a 20-year-old woman - took drugs at The Foundry and also fell seriously ill on the same evening. She remains in hospital, where her condition is now described as stable.

Chief Inspector Shakeel Ahmed told the meeting police are investigating claims the woman bought the drug from two unknown men on the premises.

Speaking on behalf of The Foundry, Leo Characambides, told the meeting there was no evidence that the venue had any issues with serious crime or drug dealing, and that it had a reputation for being 'hard to get into'.

Mr Characambides added that Joana falling fatally ill at the venue, was the 'exception and isn't indicative of a management style' that would have allowed that to happen.

The report stated that when the South Yorkshire Police licensing manager examined the venue's drugs bin, where drugs found during security checks are kept, on May 31 that it was 'overflowing' and had far more in it than normal.

A spokesman for The University of Sheffield said: “The University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union are deeply saddened by the tragic death of a young Sheffield Hallam University student. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this very difficult time.

“Keeping students safe and well is our first priority and the Sheffield Students' Union has advanced security provision, policies and safety plans in place that are regularly reviewed. Today’s license review hearing concluded with Cllr David Barker outlining how Sheffield Students’ Union is a ‘beacon of good practice’ for safety - operating at a standard to which other venues in Sheffield should aspire.

"At today's hearing, the Sheffield Students' Union proposed a number of additional measures that further support safety and security at the Foundry and we are pleased that they have been agreed. We are committed to working closely with Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Police to confirm these safety and security conditions, many of which are already in place.

“On the wider issue of drug and alcohol use by young people, the University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union is leading a campaign to proactively share safety messages and we understand how important it is to continue to highlight these concerns. We will continue to work with Sheffield Hallam University, South Yorkshire Police and other partners locally and nationally to share these messages with our own students and young people who visit us.”

The additional licensing conditions imposed by Sheffield Council are:

1. To maintain a regular review of CCTV requirements and provide the most up to date copy of the CCTV coverage report to the Licensing Authority, the Police, and any other authorised responsible authority upon request.

2. The premises will maintain, publish and promote a zero tolerance drugs policy. This policy is to be provided to the Licensing Authority, the Police, and Sheffield Safeguarding. Thereafter, the premises will maintain a regular review of the policy and provide the most up to date copy of the zero tolerance drugs policy upon request of the Licensing Authority, the Police, and Sheffield Safeguarding.

3. A trained sniffer dog and handler will be deployed a minimum of four times within twelve months from the start of the academic year for 2017/2018.

4. Notices advising of random drug sniffer dog searches will be posted within the USSU.

5. The zero tolerance and search signage will be amended to include details of the consequences of being caught in possession of drugs.

6. All staff involved in entry point searches will wear high-vis vests identifying themselves as members of the search team.

7. Members of the search team are to be deployed within the premises wearing high-vis vests identifying themselves as members of the search team.

8. The premises will maintain and keep available for inspection a register of security staff.

9. The premises will maintain and keep for inspection to authorised officers of the Licensing Authority, the Police and other responsible authorities, a refusals register and an incident register.

10. The premises will maintain and provide a calendar of licensable events and provide a copy one month in advance to the Licensing Authority, the Police, and Sheffield Safeguarding. If it is not possible to give a months’ notice of any event, adequate notice shall be given to allow suitable and sufficient comments to be made.

11. An ID scanner will be operated at the premises on club nights from 11.30pm, to be implemented week commencing September 4, 2017.

Gareth Harris of RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP

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