Urgent drugs alert after 4 people aged 18 to 21 die in Newcastle area

Police have issued an urgent drugs warning after four young people died over the weekend amid a local lockdown in the North East of England.

Northumbria Police said drugs are suspected to have been a factor in the “tragic” deaths of two 18-year-old women and a 21-year-old man in Newcastle over the weekend.

An 18-year-old man was arrested after an 18-year-old female student died in a Newcastle University halls of residence on Saturday, although police are yet to confirm if this was one of the four deaths.

The fourth fatality was an 18-year-old man who died in nearby Washington.

Police did not say which drug or drugs may have been taken.

Post-mortems are due to take place as detectives investigate whether there is a link between any of the deaths. The force urged people not to take drugs, adding: “The consequences could cost you your life.”

The North East is the drugs death capital of England, according to recent figures.

The body of the 18-year-old female student was discovered when officers were called to Newcastle University’s Park View student village shortly after 6am on Saturday.

An 18-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident and is on police bail while investigations continue, a police spokesman said.

A Newcastle University spokesman said earlier: “We are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of one of our students and our welfare teams are offering support to those affected.

“This is not Covid-related and as this is an active police investigation, we are unable to provide further comment at this time.”

On Sunday morning, a 21-year-old man was rushed by ambulance to hospital from a property in Newcastle, where he “had taken ill” and later died.

Police issued an urgent drugs warning late on Sunday night following the four deaths.

A spokesperson said: “Police are issuing an urgent drugs warning following the tragic deaths of four young people over the weekend.

“Investigations have been launched after two women, both aged 18, and a 21-year-old man died in Newcastle.

“An 18-year-old man has also died in Washington.

“Drugs are suspected to have been a factor in these deaths.

“Specialist officers are supporting the families of those involved. Post-mortems are due to take place but officers want to warn the public about the danger of taking drugs.”

Assistant Chief Constable Neil Hutchison added: “First and foremost, our thoughts go out to the families and loved ones of those who have sadly died.

“Although our investigations are still at a very early stage and we continue to establish the circumstances surrounding the deaths, we are warning people against taking drugs.

“We would urge anybody thinking about taking drugs to please not take the risk. The consequences could cost you your life.

“If anyone has any information about who has supplied the drugs in question then we would also encourage them to contact us at the earliest opportunity.”

He said that anyone who has taken these drugs and needs emergency medical attention should always call 999.

The Newcastle University Students’ Union tweeted: “After the immense tragedies over the weekend, Northumbria Police has issued an urgent drugs warning. Please read, share, and most importantly take care of yourself and those around you.”

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council told ChronicleLive: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the deaths of three young people in the city and one in Washington this weekend and send condolences to their families and friends.

“We are working alongside Northumbria Police and the universities to understand exactly what has happened and whether drugs have been involved in these cases.

“The welfare and wellbeing of students impacted by these tragic events will be all our priority.

“There is no ‘safe’ recreational drug use – batches of drugs can vary in purity and strength, and mixing drugs with alcohol is a potentially lethal cocktail and further increases risk.”

The deaths occurred while the North East is in a local Covid-19 lockdown that went into effect last month.

The North East is the drugs death capital of England and Wales, according to official figures.

There were 903 deaths between 2016 and 2018, up 30 per cent on the three previous years, according to the Office for National Statistics.