Drug death numbers continue to fall after highest level on record

The latest figures show the lowest level of deaths as a result of drug misuse since the first quarter of 2017.

Scottish drug death numbers continue to fall after highest level on record PA Media

The number of suspected drug deaths in Scotland has continued to fall, according to new figures.

In response to the crisis of the past few years, where drug deaths hit the highest level on record, the Scottish Government announced it would publish quarterly figures for suspected deaths collated from Police Scotland in a bid to improve monitoring.

In the third quarter of this year – between July and September – 235 suspected drug deaths were recorded in Scotland, a drop of 15% from the previous quarter, 18% down on the same quarter of last year, and the lowest quarterly figure since the first quarter of 2017.

So far this year, figures show 797 suspected drug deaths have been logged by police – 21% fewer than the same period last year.

Some 65% of the deaths involved people aged 35 to 54, while 43 were under 25.

The Greater Glasgow police division recorded the most suspected deaths at 148, followed by Edinburgh at 92 and Lanarkshire with 88.

The figures were released as Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee asked for an update on the legality of a measure aimed at reducing drug deaths.

Safe consumption rooms have long been argued for by the Scottish Government – allowing drug users to inject under the supervision of medical professionals to limit the chance of overdose.

The UK Government has been steadfastly against the idea and has refused to provide the necessary waiver to the Misuse of Drugs Act that would stop the criminalisation of users and staff at such facilities.

The Crown Office has been assessing the legality of such a facility and is expected to give advice to Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain on the subject.

A letter to the Crown Office from criminal justice committee convener Audrey Nicoll asked for an update on the work.