Suspected drug deaths in Scotland fall in latest figures

The latest figures on suspected drug deaths in Scotland show an 8 per cent decrease in 2021 from the previous year.

There were 1,295 suspected drug deaths between January and December last year, according to Police Scotland’s quarterly management information.

In 2020, the equivalent number was 1,411.

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Suspected drug deaths have fallen in the latest figures for Scotland

However, this method of recording differs from the official statistics produced by National Records Scotland (NRS), which found there were 1,339 confirmed drug-related deaths in 2020.

The NRS data for 2021 has not yet been published.

Within the Police Scotland data, males accounted for 73 per cent of suspected drug deaths, a 3 per cent decrease on the previous year.

More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of suspected drug deaths were aged between 34 and 54.

In January 2021 the Scottish Government declared a “national mission” to tackle rising drugs deaths, appointing a special minister to focus on the task.

Drugs policy minister Angela Constance said: “I want to extend my deepest sympathy to all those affected by the loss of a loved one through drugs.

“I know that despite this decline in the number of suspected drug deaths, the figure is still far too high and, as I have said before there, is much hard work to be done to turn this public health emergency around.”

Ms Constance said the Government was working to improve treatment standards and increase residential rehabilitation spaces.

She said: “There has been a slight increase in the number of deaths among females and we are committed to tackling the barriers which prevent women from accessing treatment, support and recovery.

“One of our priorities is to develop and increase women-specific services, and services to keep children and families together.”

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “These aren’t just numbers, they are actual people.

“Each one represents a human tragedy and a family in mourning.

“Scotland’s performance on drugs has been truly terrible, particularly in many of our poorest and most deprived neighbourhoods. That must change.

“When it comes to drug-related deaths, Scotland is the worst in Europe. This is a crisis of international significance.

“It’s why I’ve called for a specialised WHO taskforce, made up of leading experts in drug mortality, to help get to grips this particularly Scottish epidemic.”

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