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Teenager warns of drugs epidemic at University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) after her drink is spiked

By Louise Glen

Student Rose Scott has lifted the lid on what she says is a growing drugs problem at student accommodation in Inverness.
Student Rose Scott has lifted the lid on what she says is a growing drugs problem at student accommodation in Inverness.

A teenager has claimed drug use is rife at UHI halls of residence.

A teenager who was rushed to hospital after her drink was spiked claims there is an epidemic of drug-taking at Inverness Campus, and bosses there are not doing enough to combat it.

Rose Scott, who is studying an HNC in applied science and wants to be a doctor, spoke to the Inverness Courier in a bid to lift the lid on what she described as a “catalogue of failures” to stamp out drug use in halls.

The 18-year-old, who is originally from Barra, fears no-one will take action until someone dies.

Miss Scott said she had taken her complaints to every organisation on campus, including accommodation provider CityHeart, but is worried “no-one is really listening”.

During her time at the student accommodation, she says she has regularly seen others using Class A drugs such as cocaine and MDMA; Class B substances such as amphetamines, acid and cannabis; and Class C drugs such as Valium.

She said: “I moved into halls last September.

“At first things were OK, but since December things have really deteriorated, so much so that I was taken to A&E after going to a party in the halls.

“I don’t really drink very much, I had two or maybe three drinks but the next thing I knew, I was waking up in hospital with a drip in my arm.

“My friends told me that an ambulance had been called after I was unresponsive and then violently sick.

“I believe that something had been put into my drink.”

Miss Scott said that students as young as 16 and 17 were living in student accommodation where drugs were being tolerated. She continued: “In December there was a young boy who had taken too many acid tablets and he wanted to throw himself off a bridge. We phoned to try and get help for him, but there was no-one answering the phone at CityHeart so we had to phone the police.

“There has been a catalogue of failures at the college and it seems to me like it won’t stop until someone has died.”

Three other students have come forward to back up Miss Scott’s claims.

One, who did not want to be named, said: “It is as if, if you don’t do drugs, then you are bullied by the other students.”

Cameron MacRae and Benjamin Adams, who also live at the halls and were part of a trio of students trapped for hours in a lift there last November, confirmed that drugs were available on campus.

However, they said the situation was not as worrying as it would first seem.

“It is not that massive an issue,” they said. “If someone is going to do it, they will. It happens everywhere, unfortunately.”

George Gunn, Highlands and Islands Student Association Inverness president, said: “While we recognise the national trend of substance misuse is troublesome, I am confident that the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) has the best possible support available for any students who feel they need a helping hand.”

A spokeswoman for the UHI said: “We take a partnership approach to supporting our students and the UHI works closely with CityHeart Living and Inverness College UHI to ensure all students living in the halls of residence feel secure, know where to get support about issues around drugs and substance abuse, and how to reports any concerns they have.

“As with other colleges and universities, we recognise the growing challenge of drug misuse, the impact this has on health, wellbeing and learning, and the societal challenge posed by it.

“The safety and welfare of our students is our priority and we have invested heavily in student support to ensure all our learners have access to health, wellbeing and counselling support, when they need it. We also proactively work in partnership with agencies to share information and intelligence, including Police Scotland, who we work with closely to share advice with students on topics including safe partying and social media.

“Any reports of drug misuse are fully investigated and appropriate action taken.”

A spokeswoman for CityHeart Living said: "In support of the statement released today by the University of Highlands and Islands, Cityheart Living is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for the residents we manage on behalf of the University of the Highlands and Islands. Drug possession and usage is unacceptable on all premises.

"Any and all reports of drug taking are acted upon immediately, reported, investigated thoroughly and taken very seriously. We continue to work closely with the university and the local police service to inform students of the dangers of drug taking and refer any residents to the necessary support systems when needed."

Police Scotland failed to respond to requests for comment.

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