The leader of Hastings Borough Council has today blamed London drug gangs for the high rate of drug-related deaths in the town.
On Monday, it was revealed Hastings had recorded the eighth highest rate of drug-related deaths in England and Wales between 2015 and 2017 when a total of 30 people died.
Today (August 15) councillor Peter Chowney blamed ‘county lines’ – where London drug gangs find markets outside the capital – for the rise.
Councillor Chowney said: “The reasons why drug-related deaths are higher in some areas than others are not immediately obvious.
“It’s not just the most deprived areas – Norwich and Swansea, for example, have higher rates of drug-related deaths than Hastings. But it does seem to reflect towns that have been targeted through ‘county lines’, where London drug gangs in particular are finding markets outside the capital, following intensive efforts there to root out dealers.
“There are now more drug deaths per thousand population in Cumbria than there are in any London borough.
“The resources that have been deployed in London, for policing and addiction support services, need to be extended to areas such as Hastings, where the worst problems now exist.”
Monday’s figures, released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), revealed a death rate of 11.3 out of every 100,000 people in the town – above the national average of 4.37 per 100,000 people.
The rate of deaths in Hastings was also the highest in Sussex – ahead of Worthing (19th) and Brighton and Hove (22nd) which also featured in the top 30.
Blackpool was highest for drug related deaths with a rate of 18.5 deaths per 100,000 people – a total of 73 people.
The figures come four months after Hastings was found to be third highest for heroin-related deaths in England and Wales between 2014 and 2016.