Hastings ‘eighth highest’ for drug-related deaths

Hastings beach
Hastings beach

Hastings recorded the eighth highest rate of drug related deaths in England and Wales between 2015 and 2017, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The death rate in Hastings during 2015 to 2017 was 11.3 per 100,000, the figures showed, compared to 4.37 per 100,000 across England and Wales.

A total of 30 people died from drug related deaths in Hastings during the two years, according to the figures.

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.

Martin Powell, head of campaigns at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said: “Hastings is suffering a catastrophe, with death rates three or even four times the average.

“And every statistic is a family that might have been spared bereavement if the Government stopped criminalising people who use drugs which pushes them away from help, stopped blocking safer drug consumption rooms, and properly funded treatment.

“These measures all save lives, and money too – because prevention is cheaper than picking up the pieces. Longer term, all political parties should back legal regulation of the drug market to take it out of the hands of criminals, save lives, reduce crime, and protect our communities.”

At 2,503, illegal drug-related deaths have now been at or near record levels for five years in a row, according to the figures.

Rose Humphries of the Anyone’s Child Project, who lost two sons to heroin overdoses said: “It upsets me to see the figures for drug deaths at record levels year after year.

“Behind each figure in these latest statistics was a real person, a person who once had hopes and dreams – as did my two sons who were killed by illegal heroin – but they are treated as collateral damage in the government’s drug policies. I am so sad for all the families who are left in grief.”

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Hastings records ‘third highest’ rate of heroin-related deaths