The number of suspected drug-related deaths in Tayside falls from last year

The number of people who died in Tayside from suspected illegal drug use between January and March 2022 has fallen compared to the same period last year.

New figures released by the Scottish Government reveal that 25 people have died in the first three months of this year, five less than in 2021.

However the statistics, released on Tuesday, show that there is an increase compared to the October-December period (18) and the July-September period (17) last year.

The period from April to June recorded the highest number of suspicious deaths in 2021 with 34.

Of the 13 police divisions, Tayside has the fifth highest death toll in Scotland for the first three months of 2022, with Greater Glasgow recording the highest number with 50 fatalities.

The capital had the second highest with 31 deaths in Edinburgh, then Lanarkshire on 29 and then Ayrshire on 27.

The quarterly figures are measured using statistics recorded by Police Scotland and include deaths that officers suspect of having used illicit drugs.

A total of 285 Scots died from suspected illegal drug use in the first quarter of 2022, down 27% from the start of last year.

Responding to the figures, Scottish Drugs Policy and Mid Scotland and Fife MSP spokeswoman Claire Baker said that while the “early signs” are there that the problem is solved, the number of deaths is ” still tragically high”.

“While it is positive to see the early signs that we are finally addressing this public health emergency, the number of people losing their lives to drug use is still tragically high,” she said. added.

“Every drug-related death is one death too many and while any progress is welcome, there is no room for complacency.

“The Scottish Government must keep an eye on the ball and use all the power at its disposal to support communities and prevent lives being lost and destroyed by drug use.”

Deputy Premier and MSP for Perthshire North John Swinney replied: ‘While it is encouraging that the total number of drug deaths has fallen and the number of drug deaths has fallen by 27 % in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the first quarter of 2021, there is clearly still a lot of work to do.

“Every drug-related death is a tragedy and the Scottish Government remains fully committed to using all the powers at its disposal to deal with this public health emergency.

“Indeed, we are absolutely clear that one death from drugs is one death too many.

“It is for this reason that we have allocated additional funding of £250 million to address this issue, in addition to creating a Minister within the Scottish Government with specific responsibility for drugs policy.

“I hope we are now starting to see the benefits of this significant investment and that we can continue to see drug deaths decline in the months and years to come.”